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Copyrighty jgo6 
Copyright, Kpoy 
Copyright, jgo8 


EnUrtdat Stationer^ s Hail, London, England 
A II rights rtserved 

OompoBition, Electrotjpins and Printing by 

The Publishen Printing Oompany 



This Book is affectionately dedicated to the memory of 
my father, 

Rev. M. S. Weiss, Ph.D., LL.D., 

who instilled in me love of study and patience in research 



Introduction, 7 


I. Significant Events in the Life of Robert- 


II. The Orange-tree Trick, 51 

III. The Writing and Drawing Figure, .... 83 

IV. The Pastry Cook of the Palais Royal, . .116 

V. The Obedient Cards — The Cabalistic Clock — The 

Trapeze Automaton, 141 

VI. The Inexhaustible Bottle, 176 

VII. Second Sight, 200 

VIII. The Suspension Trick, 222 

IX. The Disappearing Handkerchief, . . . .245 


TRAYED BY His Own Pen, .... 264 

XI. The Narrowness of Robert-Houdin's "Memoirs," 295 



THIS book is the natural result of the moulding, 
dominating influence which the spirit and wri- 
tings of Robert-Houdin have exerted over my 
professional career. My interest in conjur- 
ing and magic and my enthusiasm for Robert-Houdin 
came into existence simultaneously. From the moment 
that I began to study the art, he became my guide and hero. 
I accepted his writings as my text-book and my gospel. 
What Blackstone is to the strugghng lawyer, Hardee's 
"Tactics" to the would-be officer, or Bismarck's life and 
writings to the coming statesman, Robert-Houdin's books 
were to me. 

To my unsophisticated mind, his "Memoirs" gave to 
the profession a dignity worth attaining at the cost of 
earnest, life-long effort. When it became necessary for 
me to take a stage-name, and a fellow-player, possessing 
a veneer of culture, told me that if I would add the letter 
"i" to Houdin's name, it would mean, in the French 
language, "like Houdin," I adopted the suggestion with 
enthusiasm. I asked nothing more of life than to become 
in my profession "like Robert-Houdin." 

By this time I had re-read his works until I could re- 
cite passage after passage from memory. Then, when 
Fate turned kind and the golden pathway of success 
led me into broader avenues of work, I determined that 
my first tour abroad should be dedicated to adding new 



laurels to the fame of Robert-Houdin. By research and 
study I would unearth history yet unwritten, and record 
unsung triumphs of this great inventor and artiste. The 
pen of his most devoted student and follower would 
awaken new interest in his history. 
Alas for my golden dreams! My investigations brought 

forth only bitterest dis- 
appointment and sad- 
dest of disillusionment. 
Stripped of his self- 
woven veil of romance, 
Robert-Houdin stood 
forth, in the uncom- 
promising light of cold 
historical facts, a mere 
pretender, a man who 
waxed great on the 
brainwork of others, a 
mechanician who had 
boldly filched the in- 
ventions of the master 
craftsmen among his 

''Memoirs of Robert- 
Houdin, Ambassador, 
Author and Conjurer, 
Written by Himself," 
proved to have been 
the penwork of a brilliant Parisian journalist, em- 
ployed by Robert-Houdin to write his so-called auto- 
biography. In the course of his "Memoirs," Robert- 


Robert-Houdin in his prime, immedi- 
ately after his retirement. From the 
Harry Houdini Collection. 


Houdin, over his own signature, claimed credit for the 
invention of many tricks and automata which may be 
said to have marked the golden age in magic. My in- 
vestigations disproved each claim in order. He had 
announced himself as jthe first magician to appear in 
regulation evening clothes, discarding flowing sleeves and 
heavily draped stage apparatus. The credit for this revo- 
lution in conjuring belonged to Wiljalba Frikell. Robert- 
Houdin's explanation of tricks performed by other 
magicians and not included in his repertoire, proved so 
incorrect and inaccurate as to brand him an ignoramus 
in certain lines of conjuring. Yet to the great charm of 
his diction and the romantic development of his personal 
reminiscences later writers have yielded unquestioningly 
and have built upon the historically weak foundations of 
his statements all the later so-called histories of magic. 

For a time the disappointment killed all. creative 
power. With no laurel wreath to carve, my tools lay idle. 
The spirit of investigation languished. Then came the 
reaction. There was work to be done. Those who had 
wrought honestly deserved the credit that had been taken 
from them. In justice to the living as well as the dead 
the history of the magic must be revised. The book, 
accepted for more than half a century as an authority 
on our craft, must stand forth for what it is, a clever 
romance, a well-written volume of fiction. 

That is why to-day I offer to the profession of magic, 
to the world of laymen readers to whom its history has 
always appealed, and to the literary savants who dip into 
it as a recreation, the results of my investigations. These, 
I believe, will show Robert-Houdin's true place in the 



history of magic and give to his predecessors, in a pro- 
fession which in each generation becomes more serious 
and more dignified, the credit they deserve. 

My investigations cover nearly twenty years of a busy 

Frontispiece of "Hocus Pocus," Second Edition, 1635, one of the earliest 
works on magic. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 

professional career. Every hour which I could spare 
from my professional work was given over to study in 
libraries, to interviews with retired magicians and col- 
lectors, and to browsing in old bookstores and antique 



shops where rare collections of programs, newspapers, 
and prints might be found. 

In order to conduct my researches intelligently, I was 
compelled to pick up a smattering of the language of 


John Baptist Porta, the Neapolitan writer on magic. From an old woodcut 
in the Harry Houdini Collection. 

each country in which I played. The average collector 
or proprietor of an old bookshop is a canny, suspicious 
individual who must' accept you as a friend before he 
will uncover his choicest treasures. 

As authorities, books on magic and kindred arts are 
practically worthless. The earliest books, like the magi- 
cian stories written by Sir John Mandeville in 1356, read 
like prototypes of to-day's dime novels. They are thrill- 



ing tales of travellers who witnessed magical performances, 
but they are not authentic records of performers and 
their work. 

One of the oldest books in my collection is ** Natural 
and Unnatural Magic'' by Gantziony, dated 1489. It 
is the author's script, exquisite in its German chirography, 
artistic in its illuminated illustrations, but worthless as an 
historical record, though many of the writer's descriptions 
and explanations of old-time tricks arc most interesting. 

Early in the seventeenth century appeared "Hocus 
Pocus," the most widely copied book in the literature of 
magic. The second edition, dated 1635, I have in my 
library. I have never been able to find a copy of the 
first edition or to ascertain the date at which it was 

A few years later, in 1658, came a very important con- 
tribution to the history of magic in ''Natural Magick in 
XX. Bookes," by John Baptist Porta, a Neapolitan. 
This has been translated into nearly every language. 
It was the first really important and exhaustive work on 
the subject, but, unfortunately, it gives the explanation 
of tricks, rather than an authentic record of their in- 

In 1682, Simon Witgeest of Amsterdam, Holland, 
wrote an admirable work, whose title reads '*Book of 
Natural Magic." This work was translated into German, 
ran through many an edition, and had an enormous sale 
in both Holland and Germany. 

In 1715, John White, an Englishman, published a 
work entitled *^ Art's Treasury and Hocus Pocus; or a 
Rich Cabinet of Legerdemain Curiosities." This is 



Frontispiece from Simon Witgeest's "Book of Natural Magic" (1682), 
showing the early Dutch conception of conjuring. From the Harry Houdini 



fully as reliable a book as the earlier ''Hocus Pocus" 
books, but it is not so generally known. 

Richard Neve, who was a popular English conjurer 
just before the time of Fawkes, published a book on 
somewhat similar lines in 1715. 

Germany contributed the next notable works on magic. 
First came Johann Samuel Halle's ''Magic or the Magical 
Power of Nature,'' printed in Berlin, in 1784. One of 
his compatriots, Johann Christian Wiegleb, wrote eighteen 
books on "The Natural Magic" and while I shall 
always contend that the German books are the most 
complete, yet they cannot be accepted as authorities save 
that, in describing early tricks, they prove the existence 
of inventions and working methods claimed later as 
original by men like Robcrt-Houdin. 

English books on magic were not accepted seriously 
until the early part of the nineteenth century. In Vol. 
III. of John Bcckmann's ''History of Inventions and 
and Discoveries," published in 1797, will be found a 
chapter on "Jugglers" which presents interesting matter 
regarding magicians and mysterious entertainers. I 
quote from this book in disproving Robert-Houdin's 
claims to the invention of automata and second-sight. 

About 1840, J. H. Anderson, a popular magician, 
brought out a series of inexpensive, paper-bound vol- 
umes, entitled "A Shilling's Worth of Magic," "Parlor 
Magic," etc., which are valuable only as giving a glimpse 
of the tricks contemporary with his personal successes. 
In 1859 came Robert-Houdin's "Memoirs," magic's 
classic. Signor Blitz, in 1872, published his reminis- 
cences, "Fifty Years in the Magic Circle," but here 



John White, Author of 
Art's Treafury, and Hoeus 
Pocus^ or « Rich Cabinet cf 
Legerdemain Curiofities, 

John White, an English writer on magic and kindred arts in the early part 
of the eighteenth century. Only portrait in existence and published for the 
first time since his book was issued in 1715. From the Harry Houdini Col- 


again we have a purely local and personal history, without 
general value. 

Thomas Frost wrote three books relating to the history 
of magic, commencing about 1870. This list included 
'Xircus Life and Circus Celebrities," **The Old Show- 
men and the Old London Fairs/' and '^ Lives of the 
Conjurers/' These were the Ix'st lx)oks of their kind up 
to the time of their publication, but they are marked by 
glaring errors, showing that Frost compiled rather than 
investigated, or, more i)roixTly sjxaking, that his in- 
vestigations never went much further than Morley's 
''Memoirs of Bartholomew Fair/' 

Charles Bertram who wrote ''Isn't it Wonderful?" 
closed the nineteenth-century list of P^nglish writers on 
magic, l)ut his work is marred by mis-statements which 
even the humblest of magicians could refute, and, like 
Frost, he drew heavily on writers who i)receded him. 

So far, in th? twentieth century, the most notable con- 
tribution to the literature of magic is Henry Ridgely 
Evans' "The Old and the New Magic," but Mr. Evans 
falls into the error of his predecessors in accepting as 
authoritative the history of magic and magicians fur- 
nished by Robert Houdin. He has made no effort 
whatever to verify or refute the statements made by 
Robert-Houdin, but has merely compiled and re-written 
them to suit his twentieth-century readers. 

The true historian does not compile. He delves for 
facts and proofs, and having found these he arrays his 
indisputable facts, his uncontrovertible proofs, to refute 
the statements of those who have merely compiled. That 
is what I have done to prove my case against Robert- 



Frontispiece from Richard Neve's work on magic, showing him performing 
the egg and bag trick about 1715. Photographed from the origmal in the 
British Museum by the author. 



Houdin. I have not borrowed from the books of other 
writers on magic. I have gone to the very fountain head 
of information, records of contemporary Hterature, news- 
papers, programmes and advertisements of magicians who 

Signor Antonio Blitz, author of "Fifty Years in the Magic Circle" (1872). 
Original negative of this photograph is in the Hariy Houdini Collection. 

preceded Robert-Houdin, sometimes by a century. It 
would cost fully a million dollars to forge the collection 
of evidence now in my hands. Men who lived a hundred 
years before Robert-Houdin was bom did not invent 



posters or write advertisements in order to refute the 
claims of those who were to follow in the profession of 
magic. . These programmes, advertisements, newspaper 
notices, and crude cuts trace the true history of magic as 

Philip AsUey, EsqT 


Jhd>. ^ Alex. Soj^. tr C° Ju^ f j.-jdod. 

Philip Astley, Esq., an historical circus director, a famous c 
Bartholomew Fair days, and author of '*Natural Magic" (1784). 
Harry Houdini Collection. 

character of 
From the 

no romancer, no historian of a single generation possibly 
could. They are the ghosts of dead and gone magicians, 
rising in this century of research and progress to claim 
the credit due them. 



Often when the bookshops and auction sales did not 
yield fruit worth plucking, I had the good fortune to 
meet a private collector or a retired performer whose 
assistance proved invaluable, and the histories of 

Charles Bertram (James Bassett), the English author and conjurer, who 
wrote *' Isn't it Wonderful?" Born 1853, died Feb. 28th, 1907. From the 
Harry Houdini Collection. 

these meetings read almost like romances, so skilfully 
did the Fates seem to juggle with my efforts to secure 
credible proof. 
To the late Henry Evans Evanion I am indebted for 



many of the most important additions to my collection 
of conjuring curios and my library of magic, recog- 
nized by fellow-artistes and litterateurs as the most 
complete in the world. 

Evanion was an Englishman, by profession a parlor 
magician, by choice and habit a collector and savant. 
He was an entertainer from 1849 to the year of his death. 
For fifty years he spent every spare hour at the British 
Museum collecting data bearing on his marvellous col- 
lection, and his interest in the history of magic was shared 
by his excellent wife who conducted a "sweet shop" 
near one of London's public schools. 

While playing at the London Hippodrome in 1904 I 
was confined to my room by orders of my physician. 
During this illness I was interviewed by a reporter who, 
noticing the clippings and bills with which my room was 
strewn, made some reference to my collection in the 
course of his article. The very day on which this inter- 
view appeared, I received from Henry Evanion a mere 
scrawl stating that he, too, collected programmes, bills, 
etc., in which I might be interested. 

I wrote at once asking him to call at one o'clock the 
next afternoon, but as the hour passed and he did not 
appear, I decided that, like many others who asked for 
interviews, he had felt but a passing whim. That after- 
noon about four o'clock my physician suggested that, as 
the day was mild, I walk once around the block. As I 
stepped from the lift, the hotel porter informed me that 
since one o'clock an old man had been waiting to see 
me, but so shabby was his appearance, they had not dared 
send him up to my room. He pointed to a bent figure, 





Last photoffraph of Henry Evans Evanion, conjuror and collector, taken 
especially for this l)ook in which he was deeply interested. Died June 17tb. 
1905. iJ'rom tlie Uarry Iloudini Collection. 



clad in rusty raiment. When I approached the old man 
he rose and informed me that he had brought some 
clippings, bills, etc., for me to see. I asked him to be 
as expeditious as possible, for I was too weak to stand 
long and my head was a-whirl from the effects of 
la grippe. 

With some hesitancy of speech but the loving touch of 
a collector he opened his parcel. 

"I have brought you, sir, only a few of my treasures, 
sir, but if you will call '' 

I heard no more. I remember only raising my hands 
before my eyes, as if I had been dazzled by a sudden 
shower of diamonds. In his trembling hands lay price- 
less treasures for which I had sought in vain — original 
programmes and bills of Robert-Houdin, Phillippe, Ander- 
son, Breslaw, Pinetti, Katterfelto, Boaz, in fact all the 
conjuring celebrities of the eighteenth century, together 
with lithographs long considered unobtainable, and news- 
papers to be found only m the files of national libraries. 
I felt as if the King of England stood before me and I 
must do him homage. 

Physician or no physician, I made an engagement 
with him for the next morning, when I was bundled into 
a cab and went as fast as the driver could urge his horse 
to Evanion's home, a musty room in the basement of 
No. 12 Methley Street, Kennington Park Road, S.E. 

In the presence of his collection I lost all track of 
time. Occasionally we paused in our work to drink tea 
which he made for us on his pathetically small stove. 
The drops of the first tea which we drank together can 
yet be found on certain papers in my collection. - His 



Very rare and extraordinarily fine litlH)<rraph of Rol)ert-Houdin, wliieli lie 
^ave only to his friends. It depicts him anionj: his so-called inventions. His 
son, Emile, doin^ second sijrht, Ls Ix'hhid him. 'J'he writing and drawing 
figure is on his left. On his right imrler the clcK-kwork is a drawing whicli, 
on close examination of the original, shows the suspension trick. From the 
llarry Houdini Collection. 



wife, a most sympathetic soul, did not offer to disturb 
us, and it was 3:30 the next morning, or very nearly 
twenty-four hours after my arrival at his home, when my 
brother, Theodore Weiss (Hardeen), and a thoroughly 
disgusted physician appeared on the scene and dragged 
me, an unwilling victim, back to my hotel and medical 

Such was the beginning of my friendship with Evanion. 
In time I learned that some of his collection had been left 
to him by James Savren, an English barber, who was so 
interested in magic that at frequent intervals he dropped 
his trade to work without pay for famous magicians, 
including Dobler, Anderson, Compars Herrmann, De 
Liska, Wellington Young, Cornillot, and Gyngell. From 
these men he had secured a marvellous collection, which 
was the envy of his friendly rival, Evanion. Savren be- 
queathed his collection to Evanion, and bit by bit I 
bought it from the latter, now poverty stricken, too old 
to work and physically failing. These purchases I made 
at intervals whenever I played in London, and on June 
7th, 1905, while playing at Wigan, I received word that 
Evanion was dying at Lambeth Infirmary. 

After the show, I jumped to London, only to find that 
cancer of the throat made it almost impossible for him 
to speak intelligibly. I soon discovered, however, that 
his chief anxiety was for the future of his wife and then 
for his own decent burial. When these sad offices had 
been provided for, he became more peaceful, and when 
I rose to leave him, knowing that we had met probably 
for the last time, he drew forth his chiefest treasure, a 
superb book of Robert-Houdin's programmes, his one 





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Poster used by James Savren. From 
the Harry Houdini Collection. 


legacy, which is now the 
central jewel in my col- 
lection. Evanion died 
ten days later, June 1 7th, 
and within a short time 
his good wife followed 
him into the Great Un- 

Even more dramatic 
was my meeting with the 
widow of Frikell, the 
great German conjurer. 

I had heard that Frikell 
and not Robert-Houdin 
was the first magician 
to discard cumbersome, 
draped stage apparatus, 
and to don evening 
clothes, and I was most 
anxious to verify this 
rumor, as well as to in- 
terview him regarding 
equally important data 
bearing on the history of 
magic. Having heard 
that he lived in Kotchen- 
broda, a suburb of Dres- 
den, I wrote to him from 
Cologne, asking for an 
interview. I received 
in reply a curt note: 


''HeiT verreist," meaning ''The master is on tour." 
This, I knew, from his age, could not be true, so 
I took a week off for personal investigation. I ar- 
rived at Kotchenbroda on the morning of April 8th, 
1903, at 4 o'clock, and was directed to his home, known 
as ''Villa Frikell." Having found my bearings and 
studied well the exterior of the house, I returned to the 
depot to await daylight. At 8:30 I reappeared at his 
door, and was told by his wife that Herr Frikell had 
gone away. 

I then sought the police department from which I 
secured the following information: "Dr." Wiljalba Frikell 
was indeed the retired magician whom I was so anxious 
to meet. He was eighty-seven years old, and in 1884 had 
celebrated his golden anniversary as a conjurer. Living in 
the same town was an adopted daughter, but she could not 
or would not assist me. The venerable magician had suf- 
fered from domestic disappointments and had made a vow 
that he would see no one. In fact he was leading a 
hermit-like life. 

Armed with this information, I employed a photog- 
rapher, giving him instructions to post himself opposite 
the house and make a §nap shot of the magician, should 
he appear in the doorway. But I had counted without 
my host. All morning the photographer lounged across 
the street and all morning I stood bareheaded before 
the door of Herr Frikell, pleading with his wife who leaned 
from the window overhead. With that peculiar fervency 
which comes only when the heart's desire is at stake, I 
begged that the past master of magic would lend a help- 
ing hand to one ready to sit at his feet and learn. I urged 





j^K ^^^^^ ^Jkl^^^^^^^^^^^^^^B^ 


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C . 







the debt which he owed to the literature of magic and 
which he could pay by giving me such direct information 
as I needed for my book. 

Frau Frikell heard my pleadings with tears running 
down her cheeks, and later I learned that Herr Frikell 
also listened. to them, lying grimly on the other side of 
the shuttered window. 

At length, yielding to physical exhaustion, I went away, 
but I was still undaunted. I continued to bombard Herr 
Frikell with letters, press clippings regarding my work, 
etc., and finally in Russia I received a letter from him. 
I might send him a package containing a certain brand 
of Russian tea of which he was particularly fond. You 
may be sure I lost no time in shipping the little gift, and 
shortly I was rewarded by the letter for which I longed. 
Having decided that I cared more for him than did some 
of his relatives, he would receive me when next I played 
near Kotchenbroda. 

With this interview in prospect, I made the earliest 
engagement obtainable in Dresden, intending to give 
every possible moment to my hardly-won acquaintance. 
But Fate interfered. One business problem after another 
arose, concerning my forthcoming engagement in Eng- 
land, and I had to postpone my visit to Herr Frikell 
until the latter part of the week. In the mean time, he 
had agreed to visit a Dresden photographer, as I wanted 
an up-to-date photograph of him and he had only pictures 
taken in his more youthful days. On the day when he 
came to Dresden for his sitting, he called at the theatre, 
but the attaches, without informing me, refused to give 
him the name of the hotel where I was stopping. 




After the performance I dropped into the Konig Kaffe 
and was much annoyed by the staring and gesticulations 
of an elderly couple at a distant table. It was Frikell 
with his wife, but I did not recognize them and, not being 
certain on his side, he failed to make himself krio\\Ti. 
That was mid-week, and for Saturday, which fell on 
October 8th, 1903, I had an engagement to call at the 
Villa Frikell. On Thursday, the Central Theatre being 
sold out to Cleo de Merode, who was playing special 
engagements in Germany with her own company, I 
made a flying business trip to Berlin, and on my return I 
passed through Kotchenbroda. As the train pulled into 
the station I hesitated. Should I drop off and see Herr 
Frikell, or wait for my appointment on the morrow? 
Fate turned the wheel by a mere thread and I went on to 
Dresden. So does she often dash our fondest hopes! 

My appointment for Saturday was at 2 p.m., and as my 
train landed me in Kotchenbroda a trifle too early I 
walked slowly from the depot to the Villa Frikell, not 
wishing to disturb my aged host by arriving ahead of time. 

I rang the bell. It echoed through the house with pe- 
culiar shrillness. The air seemed charged with a quality 
which I presumed was the intense pleasure of realizing 
my long cherished hope of meeting the great magician. 
A lady opened the door and greeted me with the words: 
"You are being waited for." 

I entered. He was waiting-for me indeed, this man 
who had consented to meet me, after vowing that he would 
never again look into the face of a stranger. And Fate 
had forced him to keep that vow. . Wiljalba Frikell was 
dead. The body, clad in the best his wardrobe afforded, 



all of which had been donned in honor of his expected 
guest, was not yet cold. Heart failure had come suddenly 
and unannounced. The day before he had cleaned up his 
souvenirs in readiness for my coming and arranged a quan- 
tity ot data for me. On the wall above the silent form 
were all of his gold medals, photographs taken at various 
stages of his Kfe, orders presented to him by royalty — 
all the outward and visible signs of a vigorous, active, 
and successful life, the life of which he would have told 
me, had I arrived ahead of Death. And when all these 
were arranged, he had forgotten his morbid dislike of 
strangers. The old instincts of hospitality tugged at his 
heart strings, and his wife said he was almost young and 
happy once more, when suddenly he grasped at his heart, 
crying, "My heart! What is the matter with my heart? 
O '' That was all! 

There we stood together, the woman who had loved 
the dear old wizard for years and the young magician who 
would have been so willing to love him had he been allowed 
to know him. His face was still wet from the cologne she 
had thrown over him in vain hope of reviving the fading 
soul. On the floor lay the cloths, used so ineffectually 
to bathe the pulseless face, and now laughing mockingly 
at one who saw himself defeated after weary months 
of writing and pleading for the much-desired meeting. 

I feel sure that the personal note struck in these remi- 
niscences will be forgiven. In no other way could I 
prove the authoritativeness of my collection, the thorough- 
ness of my research, and the incofitrovertibility of the facts 
which I desire to set forth in this volume. 






ROBERT-HOUDIN was born in Blois, France/'- 
December 6th, 1805. His real name was 
Jean-Eugene Robert, and his father was Prosper 
Robert, a watchmaker in moderate circum- 
stances. His mother's maiden name was Marie Catherine 
Guillon. His first wife was Josephe Cecile Eglantine 
Houdin, whose family name he assumed for business rea- 
sons. He was married the second time to Franjoise Mar- 
guerite Olympe Naconnier. His death, caused by pneu- 
monia, occurred at St. Gervais, France, on June 13th, 1871. 
Barring the above facts, which were gleaned from 
the register of the civil authorities of St. Gervais, 
all information regarding his life previous to his first 
public appearance in 1844 must be drawn from his own 
works, particularly from his autobigraphy, published in 
the form of ^^ Memoirs." Because of his supreme egotism, 
his obvious desire to make his autobiography picturesque 
and interesting rather than historically correct, and his 
utter indifference to dates, exact names of places, theatres, 
books, etc., it is extremely hard to present logical and con- 
3 [33] 

THE t:nmasking of robert-houdin 

sistent statements regarding his life. Such discrepancies 
arise as the mention of three chiklren in one chapter and 
four in another, while he does net give the names of either 

Jean-Eugene Robert-IIoudin. Photograph taken al)out 1868. From the 
Harry Iloudini Collection. 

wife, though he admits his obligation to both good 

According to his autobiography, Jean-Eugene Robert 
was sent to college at Orleans at the tender age of eleven, 
and remained there until he was eighteen. He was then 
placed in a notary's office to study law, but his mechanicaJ 



tastes led him back to his father's trade, watchmaking. 
While working for his cousin at Blois, he visited a book- 
shop in search of Berthoud's "Treatise on Clockmaking," 
but by mistake he was given several volumes of an old 
encyclopaedia, one of which contained a dissertation on 
"Scientific Amusements," or an exposition of magic. 
This simple incident, he asserts, changed the entire 
current of his life. At eighteen, he first turned his atten- 
tion to magic. At forty, he made his first appearance 
as an independent magician or public performer. 

On page 44 of his " Memoirs," American edition, Robert- 
Houdin refers to this book as an encyclopaedia, but several 
times later he calls it "White Magic." In all probability 
it was the famous work by Henri Decremps in five vol- 
umes, known as "La Magie Banche Devoilee," or "White 
Magic Exposed." This was written by Decremps to 
injure Pinetti, and it exposed all the latter's tricks, in- 
cluding the orange tree, the vaulting trapeze automaton, 
and in fact the majority of the tricks later claimed by 
Robert-Houdin as his own inventions. 

In 1828, while working for M. Noriet, a watchmaker in 
Tours, Jean-Eugene Robert was poisoned by improperly 
prepared food, and in his delirium started for his old home 
in Blois. He was picked up on the roadside by Torrini, 
a travelling magician, who nursed him back to health 
in his portable theatre. Just as young Jean recovered 
Torrini was injured in an accident, and his erstwhile 
patient remained to nurse his benefactor and later to help 
Torrini's assistant present the programme of magic by 
which they made their living. His first public appearance 
as the representative of Torrini was made at Aubusson. 



JfttiSt ^Representation 


C|)e jpantagtic Soirees; 


Automata, Sleigh t-of- Hand, Magic. 

The Performance will be composed of entirely 
novel Experiments invented by 


Among them being: 

The Cabalistic Clock Obedient Cards 

Auriol and Debureau The Miraculous Fish 

The Orange-Tree The Fascinating Owl 

The Mysterious Boquet The Pastrycook of the 
Pierrot in the Egg Palais Royal 

Co Commence at c^igl^t o'clocfi^ 

)lBopoffice open at l^alf^pasft ^el)m« 

Price of Places: Upper Boxes ^ i fr, 50 c; Stalls^ jfr.; 
Boxes y ^ fr. ; Dress Circle^ 5 fr. 

Programme for the opening of Robert-Houdin's theatre in Paris. Repro- 
duced from the American edition of his " Memoirs.** 



Torrini was an Italian whose real name was Count 
Edmond de Grisy. He was a contemporary of Pinetti. 
In all probability, during the long summer of their inti- 
mate companionship, Torrini not only initiated his fas- 
cinated young guest into his own methods of performing 





^^^Mh ^K^^^^^^Ld^B^^^^^^^Sui^^^^^^^HL^^^^^^^K. 















1*1 A « I E. 


Robert-Houdin's favorite lithojjraph for advertising purposes. Used on 
the majority of his posters and in the original edition of his "Memoirs." From 
the Harry Houdini Collection. 

tricks, but also into the secrets of Pinetti's tricks. In 
his *^ Memoirs," Robert-Houdin makes no secret of the 
fact that both Comus and Pinetti, together with their 
tricks, were topics of conversation between himself and 
When Torrini was able to resume his performances, 



9Uan i|r *tftr»» p«traMgr < 








Satl)0 ann mieafts^onstB (or tt^e iUtiouring CUsscf,, 


Tbf RMidcM* of AKTBi-a WsurtK, £i^. 
WUtk hat kn MM* ki^lg flani al tkt HtptMl rf iht Ladiu HlfMtuu. 

U crabtnr (^ mtaini ittthn •< iti t«U>«(n( Ortlun. ato tatr aou MUflnflf 




ooNOuoToit • aiONOM oorr*. 



|;NX tl^JiiSS 7Ai-i7aS70£l»£. 
Tb* OreaaAi will b* ep«D fron Oa* arOevk, unu) Stffet. 


TMf NVMItIi OP WMirH •rllk •£ lIMtTtO. 

Cta esUj b* precund os th* prrwuittion ol Vouchtrt from <b« (oUswiMf 

CoriTtuof^atlnftnivD. I v«Kee»T«M io«ii»». 

CcviTrM I>»«40«> Of Cmh. I ViMO«*Ti»» ••■m 

CcrrttM or Jimst. | Ccfoiiw »• FLuiuik 

CervTiu o» ratlrro*. ■ L*>« Cooitr •■!:». 

Corniu Of ro»:ticn. | Ua* hctitt C»«*>Maa. 

1 l4i>T wiii«r«Kat aa Cl 

0\catM or BtMitrea. 
Utcatn or AmoLu 
Utchu* or Mosrraoaa. 
Urcntta ot tvrnnvmrtk 

aftacaioyiM et Wtitarmr. 

>i*MMU-«m ot u-*it»roiuv 
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MkHcaiOKtM or Cxmit. 
M«»csiortM or AitiMrar. 
aiAMHiorau or CLtiiaioraa. 
HtataioraM or ■*iAi,<ia«n. 
MaiicaH»rB»i or Bwrrroaa. 

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l^M Ji>«a Rrwtik 
Viicor<atM irort*. 
V|*c«tiiTt»l r&i.»UCT«ir, 
TiKorrttM Carriro. 

dUtttamat TieJktu,fir MMurried Som and Daufitttn t/th» tame Pamity, Jti U. «mA. 
V JtmOmn wttl b* «iclua(«« »* Mr. MiTCHSt.i.-» moyU Ubmr, 33» OM BoM MtmI 

OH 1N( ina. ■«». Aaa l»n JULV. 

T> i^ JS^ ^f-^/ *i^^ possibly the only, programme in existence, chronicling 
Kobert-Houdm s first appearance before Queen Victoria, July 19th, 1848 
&4enT°RoS'lf *^ ^^^ Houdini CoUection, was presented to James 



Jean-Eugene returned to his family in Blois. During 
the next few years he mixed amateur acting with his 
daily labor, leaning more and more toward the profes- 
sion of public entertainer. But his ambitions along this 

line were nipped in the bud by 

wv jAM Etpg TH KATBB. marHagc. Mademoiselle Houdin, 

£ri £SSr^£ rm2L wliose father was a celebrated 

•k/t'fiieW^^^ walclmiaker in Paris, visited old 

— "s;.*-"^ friends in Blois, their native town, 

.^%"_r!ff^4y cind became the fiancee of young 

""llvw*"* ^ Rol)ert. As the new son-in-law 

§was to share the elder Houdin's 
business and naturally wished to 
^f^ secure such benefits as might ac- 
^^ffUKl^^^^ crue from so celebrated a family 
"** ^"TrJIIISrSJ" ''^^ of watch and clock makers, he 
.t«!::ri*:^:z.'^i::2:.«. applied to the council of state 

WENES8AY 4 SATHMY MOMMS ' ' Houdin " to his name, Jean- 

"-* rf^ s^-^-^*'^,— ■ " Eugene Robert, and thereafter was 

■^f^^^^^^^S^Z. known only as Robert-Houdin. 

*"' ==^=-r.^r~ jjjg jj£^ between 1838 and 1844 

^:&n di'L'Vtte; was divided between reading every 
engagement at the St. ^qj.^ obtainable on magic, and his 

James Iheatre, J/ondon. ... . 

From the Harry Houdini duticS -in his fathcr-in-law's shoD, 

Collection. , m. ^ , , . 

where ne not only made and re- 
paired clocks, but built and repaired automata of various 
sorts. His family shared with him many financial vicissi- 
tudes, and about 1842-43 his first wife died, leaving him 
with three young children to raise. Earlier in his "Mem- 
oirs" he speaks of having four children, so it is more 



than likely that one died before his wife. He married 
again soon, and though he gives his second wife great 
credit as a helpmate he does not state her name. 

By this time he had acquired more than passing fame 

Robert-Houdin as he appeared to the English critics. Reproduced from the 
Illustrated London News, December 23d, 1848. 

as a repairer of automata, and in 1844 he mended Vau- 
canson's marvellous duck, one of the most remarkable 
automata ever made. Doubtless other automata found 



their way to his workshop and aided him in his study of 
a profession which he still hoped to follow. During these 
discouraging times he was often assisted financially by 

Poster used in 1848 in London by Robert-Houdin. From the Harry Houdini 


one Monsieur G , who either advanced money on 

his automata or bought them outright. In the same 
year, 1844, he retired to a suburb of Paris, and there, 









won nanvnT mask an 

he asserts, he built his famous writing and drawing 

The next year, 1845, he was assisted by Count de 
L'Escalopier, a devotee of conjuring and automata, who 
advanced the money to fit up 
and furnish a small theatre 
in the Palais Royal. Robert- 
Houdin went about the work 
of decorating and furnishing this 
theatre with a view to securing 
the most dramatic and brilliant 
effects, surrounding his simple 
tricks with a setting that made 
them vastly different from the 
same offerings by his predeces- 
sors. He was what is called to- 
day an original producer of old 
ideas. On June 25th, 1845, he 
gave his first private perform- 
ance before a few friends. On 
July 3d of the same year his 
theatre of magic was opened 
formally to the public. The 
programme of this performance 
is shown on page 37. 

It will be noted that the famous 
writing and drawing figure was not then included in Robert- 
Houdin's repertoire, nor does it ever appear on any of his 
programmes. He exhibited it at the quinquennial exhibi- 
tion in 1844, received a silver medal for it, and very soon 
sold it to the late P. T. Barnum, who exported it to America. 


hst AneiruM li Lmtai 





. a». OAt. tnUAM. u. M. 

Poster for theEmile-Houdin 
benefit at St. James's Thea- 
tre in 1848. From the Harry 
Houdini Collection. 


This question naturally arises: If Robert-Houdin built 
the original writing and drawing figure, why could he not 
make a duplicate and include it in his programme ? Surely 






WeMCIr«le. • ••. BaxM, - Sa. 

niTAVB BBSMt M> lii MJ^ 4L Bk M. 

Poster used by Robert-Houdin when he pbyed at Sadler's Wells, London, 
in 1853. He never refers to this engagement m his writings because he was 
not proud of having appeared in a second-class theatre, while his rival, Anderson, 
held the fashionable audiences at the St. James's, where Robert-Houdin had 
worn out his welcome. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 

it was one of the most remarkable of the automata which 
he claims as the creations of his brain and hands. 



In 1846 he claims to have invented second sight, and 
at the opening of the season in 1847 he presented as his 
own creation the suspension trick. During the interim 
he played an engagement in Brussels which was a finan- 
cial failure. 

In 1848 the Revolution closed the doors of Parisian 
theatres, Robert-Houdin's among the rest, and he re- 
turned to clockmaking and automata building, until he 
received from John Mitchell, who had met with great 
success in managing Ludwig Dobler and Phillippe, an 
offer to appear in London at the St. James's Theatre. 
This engagement was a brilliant success and for the first 
time in his career Robert-Houdin reaped big financial 

Later Robert-Hcudin toured the English provinces 
under his own management and made return trips to 
London, but his tour under Mitchell was the most notable 
engagement of his career. 

In 1850, while playing in Paris, he decided to retire, 
and to turn over his theatre and tricks to one Hamilton. 
A contemporary clipping, taken from an English news- 
paper of 1848, goes to prove that Hamilton was an 
Englishman who entered Robert-Houdin's employ. Ham- 
ilton signed a dual contract, agreeing to produce Robert- 
Houdin's tricks as his acknowledged successor and to 
marry Robert-Houdin's sister, thus keeping the tricks 
and the theatre in the family. During the next two years 
Robert-Houdin spent part of his time instructing his 
brother-in-law in all the mysteries of his art. In July, 
1852, he played a few engagements in Germany, including 
Berlin and various bathing resorts, and then formally 



retired to his home at St. Gervais. Here he continued 
to work along mechanical and electrical lines, and in 1855 
he again came into public notice, winning awards at the 
Exhibition for electrical power as applied to mechanical 
uses. In 1856, according to his autobiography, he* was 

Robert-Houdin's grave, in the cemetery at Blois, France. From a photo- 

Saph taken by the autlior, especially for tliis work, and now in the Harry 
oudini Collection. 

summoned from his retirement by the Government to 
make a trip to Algeria and there intimidate revolting 
Arabs by the exhibition of his sleight-of-hand tricks. These 
were greatly superior to the work of the Marabouts or 
Arabian magicians, whose influence was often held re- 
sponsible for revolts. What Robert-Houdin received for 



performing this service is not set forth in any of his works. 
He spent the fall of 1856 in Algeria. 

From the date of his return to St. Gervais to the time 
of his death, June 13th, 187 1, Robert-Houdin devoted 
his energies to improving his inventions and writing his 

Bas-relief on Robert-Houdin tombstone. From a photograph taken by the 
author, especially for this work, and now in the Harry Houdini Collection. 

books, though, as stated before, it was generally believed 
by contemporary magicians that in the latter task he 
entrusted most of the real work to a Parisian journalist 
whose name was never known. 

He was survived by a wife, a son named Emile, and 
a step-daughter. Emile Houdin managed his father's 
theatre until his death in 1883, when the theatre was 



sold for 35,000 francs. The historic temple of magic 
still stands under the title of "Theatre Robert-Houdin," 
under the management of M. Melies, a maker of mo- 
tion picture films. 
During my investigations in Paris, I was shocked to 

The last photograph taken of Robert-Hoiidin and used as the frontispiese for 
the original French edition of liis "Memoirs," published in 1868. 

find how little the memory of Robert-Houdin was revered 
and how little w^as known of France's greatest magician. 
In fact, I was more than once informed that Robert- 
Houdin was still alive and giving performances at the 
theatre which bears his name. 



Contemporary magicians of Robert-Houdin and men 
of high repute in other walks of life seem to agree that 
Robert-Houdin was an entertainer of only average merit. 
Among the men who advanced this theory were the late 
Henry Evanion of whose deep interest in magic I wrote 
in the introduction, Sir William Clayton who was Robert- 
Houdin's personal friend in London, Ernest Basch who 
saw Robert-Houdin in Berlin, and T. Bolin of Moscow, 
Russia, who bought all his tricks in Paris and there saw 
Robert-Houdin and studied his work as a conjurer. 

Robert-Houdin's contributions to literature, all of 
which are eulogistic of his own talents, are as follows: 

"Confidence et Revelations," published in Paris in 
1858 and translated into English by I^ascelles Wraxall, 
with an introduction by R. Shelton Mackenzie. 

"Les Tricheries des Grecs" (Card-Sharping Exposed), 
published in Paris in 1861. 

"Secrets de la Prestidigitation" (Secrets of Magic), 
published in Paris in 1868. 

"Le Prieure" (The Priory, being an account of his 
electrically equipped house), published in Paris in 1867. 

"Les Radiations Lumineuses," published in Blois in 

"Exploration de la Retinue," published in Blois, 1869. 

"Magic et Physique Amusante" (ceuvre posthume), 
published in Paris in 1877, six years after Robert-Houdin's 

In his autobiography, Robert-Houdin makes specific 

claim to the honor of having invented the following 

tricks: The Orange Tree, Second Sight, Suspension, 

The Cabalistic Clock. The Inexhaustible Bottle, The 

4 [49] 


Pastry Cook of the Palais Royal, The Vaulting Trapeze 
Automaton, and the Writing and Drawing Figure. 

His fame, which has been sung by writers of magic 
without number since his death, rests principally on the 
invention of second sight, suspension, and the writing and 
drawing automaton. It is my intention to trace the true 
history of each of these tricks and of all others to which 
he laid claim as inventor, and show just how small a 
proportion of the credit was due to Robert-Houdin and 
how much he owed to magicians who preceded him 
and whose brain-work he claimed as his own. 




ROBERT-HOUDIN, on page 179 of the American 
edition of his ^^ Memoirs," thus describes the 
orange-tree trick, which he claims as his inven- 
tion : " The next was a mysterious orange-tree, 
on wnich flowers and fruit burst into life at the request of 
the ladies. As the finale, a handkerchief I borrowed 
was conveyed into an orange purposely left on the tree. 
This opened and displayed the handkerchief, which two 
butterflies took by the comers and unfolded before the 

On page 245 of the same volume he presents the 
programme given at the first public performance in the 
Theatre Robert-Houdin, stating: 

"The performance will be composed of entirely novel 
Experiments invented by M. Robert-Houdin. Among 
them being The Orange-Tree, etc." 

Now to retrace our steps in the history of magic as set 
forth in handbills and advertisements of earlier and con- 
temporaneous newspaper clippings describing their in- 

Under the title of "The Apple-Tree" this mechanical 
trick appeared on a Fawkes programme dated 1730. This 
was 115 years before Robert-Houdin claimed it as his 
invention. In 1732, just before Pinchbeck's death, it 



appeared on a programme used by Christopher Pinchbeck, 
Sr., and the youngLT Fawkes, In 1784 it was included in 
the report oirc of the Italian conjurer, Pinetti, in the guise' 
of ''Lc Bouquet philosophiquc," In 1822 the same 
trickj but this time called ''An Enchant^ Garden," 

was featured by M- Comillo^. ^ 
who appeared in England as thfe 
pupil and successor of Pinetti- 

I1ae trick was first explained 
in jmblic print by Henri 
crrmps in 1784 when his famoi 
cxi>()se of Pinetti was publish 
under the title of *'La Maj 
Blanche Devoilee/'and in 17; 
87 both Halle and Wiegleb ea^ 
posed the trick completely 
their res]iective works on maj 
That Rolx^rt-Houdin was 
omniA^orous reader is proven 
his own MTitings. That he kn& 
the history and tricks of Pinetti 
is proven by his own words, for in Chapter VI. of his 
^* Memoirs'* he devoted fourteen pages to Pinetti and the 
latter's relations with Torrini. 

Now to pro^^c that thr tree tricks offered by Fawki 
Pinchbeck, Pinetti, Coriiillot, and Roljert-Koudin were, 
practically one and the same, and to tell something rf 
the history of the four magicians who featured the trick 
before Robert-Houdin had been heard of: 

Unquestionably, the real inventor of the mysterious 
tree was Christopher Pinchbeckj who was England*s 


Diagfmni of tlie oriin>^*-tn'0 
trick, f rs i rn \\ u ^^ itA i * w " Tl it^ 
NatufiU Miigic/' pubiisfwd in 

pher Pinchbeck, Sr. ^ This is the oldest and rarest authentic mezzotint in the 
orld. pertaining to the history of magic. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 



leading mechanical genius at the close of the seventeenth 
century and the beginning of the eighteenth. He was a 
man of high repute, whose history is not that of the 
charlatan, compiled largely from tradition, but it can be 

M41, /fff Rf tit Haf^Mfttk/f, h t« Iff Utm tS^ 
G« A N n 1 HI A T n 4i <if lUe M U i £s, /a|I 
it*iV^{ ^ ^J^ IM N C H tn , C K ^ 
THli wD«t*trfol M^cbliii? h iHr Aft<jntfli." 

Ktttii H 4^ ih«r (tc it. the Migii}(icrnr«f)l ill tiM4«* 

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L>iichHijii h|_t« fcHc^i«B, »« gjtit t<ul«iy 
'4idP» Li:lttii.f« •ao'ihcFhumtftit yiHtiKi »t* 

ifiiriiDftEtdiiadcornpelFibjftietiivt twmf ni'hh H«E»i 

If i!(«ipciioinTioii UvitMl lBftrLmeiu«|rri4 Tdtircf of hhR JJ 

Cic«JJent Pieces of MuJiLk rdnn^oi'd bj ^tr. ^A»it>»« Cd-^ vf 

mtkhiiKh atot^dfiiiii h&*an^<t tJt«T Ictftic nof ffind eiq V 
cqxaj. Li lU^vae imiuirt the f*efi Hi(ni9«3T of A^-y aH- 

Kj)''t4^^^J0dkrkjCud(Oo» &c- uc pfi^grnied id fo giftt 4. f^ 
^frfcftid-s ii( not ro tMdiiMo|(Qiaf«^ fr«n Mnurc ii felf, 
WU h Icvfrnl oituif grand t'cifornijuctt i p-^ '< dU^in ia nv«f* ^ 
tlou, fitcn f-i. a, 6i. «nd ] i, Ta ^r l<ru tn^ |a ^ 

iufi if Tmit 1^ 

D«ys at AX itii-in b-^a oce to iJic Lx^ TArcm U Fkeiftjeia,%^ 

Clipping from the London Daily Post of Noveml)er 30th, 1728. Used by 
Christopher Pinchbeck before he joined Fawkes. From the Hany Houdini 

corroborated by court records, biographical works, and 
encyclopaedias, as well as by contemporaneous newspaper 

According to Vol. XLV. of the " Dictionary of National 
Biography," edited by Sidney Lee and published in 1896 
by Smith, Elder & Co., 15 Waterloo Place, London: 
"Christopher Pinchbeck was bom about 1670, possibly 



in Clerkenwell, London. He was a clockmaker and 
inventor of the copper and zinc alloy called after his name. 
He invented and made the famous astronomico-musical 
clock. In Appleby's Weekly Journal of July 8th, 1721, 


j^/ FAWKFS's Theatre, 

j hf mhfteJ th^ fcih'm'ms Kfiifrtdmfk'T/is : 
» FirftiOlS Diieitins and Ininsmparabla 

1 N* Hk lu jtirtiraliT Jw ciufci i Tree r^ Errw ^^ in i Timnsf^ , 

■ EiIp irJfTioi '^*^ I'Jv* iua htiT ripe Fftut ij^ » 

■ &cftr»di Hii FiiiK^ji lit' le Pn 4 f u a t*M a t v e a* i 

■ It^ird, Th* %iu_f lUAL Ct&ejt, wltii iwo nM^Tdfi PtftuiM 

f H WorfcMi*ttiljip 111 tfjt WorJiU r^tf maiNiis ^^iummi «fc« . 

1 OlT>i:'<'ktiC;. tjf 

I ^i/tlH "fbff AuriUCrAt Vrtw cjf ihe \Voii»ii. nv^f«rft \ 

I of^in: The 'hiO'-^vn Imrcin: tnct Titcteafc l clif f'lwn of Dst - 

the Hi^niyi n tiH l-tfitrtni.. sn in a fine ^ftintf f tvttii r, 5 rhe ' 

! 1^1 k> l^^flLincP- ^i hen t^s ncif >W tkpJr tl. *J. ......_ ^"^*? ' 

KiJtt, Evtrj M^V iHlii>.ti tM> VV.clt^,fl[3c [H f fMlftt d>f L H 

i^Jl wiihCuldt nxfe 1 

Advertisement from the London DaUp Post during 1730, showing the orange 
tree as oflFered by the senior Fawkes, just previous to his death. From the 
Harry Houdini Collection, 

it was announced that ^ Christopher Pinchbeck, inventor 
and maker of the astronomico-musical clock, is removed, 
from St. George's Court (now Albion Place) to the sign 
of the '^ Astronomico-Musical Clock" in Fleet Street, near 
the Leg Tavern. He maketh and selleth watches of all 
sorts and clocks as well for the exact indication of the 



time only as astronomical, for showing the various 
motions and phenomena of j)lanets' and fixed stars.! 
Mention is also made of musical automata in imitation 
singing birds and barrel organs for churches, as amot 
Pinchlx'ck's manufactures. 

'^Pinchlx'ck was in the habit of exhibiting collections^ 
of his automata at fairs, sometimes in conjunction with . 
juggler named Fawkes, and he entitled his stall 
Temple of the Muses/ * Grand Theatre of the Muses,*] 
or ^^lultum in Parvo.' The Daily Journal of AugiLst 
27th, 3729, announced that tlie Prince and Princess of^ 
Wales went to the liartliolomew Fair to see his exhibition, 
and there were brief advertisements in The Daily Post of 
June 12th, 1729, and the Daily Journal of August 22d 
and 23d, 1729. There is still a large broadside in the 
British Museum (1CS50 c. 30-17) headed 'Multum in 
Parvo/ relating to Pinchbeck's exhibition, with a blank 
left for ])lace and date, evidently intended for use as 
poster. lie died November ] 8th, 1732; was buried Nl 
vember 2jst, in St. Denison's Church, Fleet Street. 

''In a copy of ihc Gentlemen's ^faiJ;azinc, printed J73^J 
page 1083, there is an engraved ])()rtrait by L Faber,/ 
after a jxiinting by Isaac Wood, a rei)roduction of whidiil 
ai)pears in 'Britten's Clock and Watch ^Nlaker/ page 122,^ 
His will, dated November loth, 1732, was proved in 
London on November ]8th/' 

During one of his engagements at the Bartholomew 
Fair, Pinchbeck ])robably met P^iwkes, the cleverest 
sleight-of-hand performer that magic has ever known, 
and the two joined forces. Pinchbeck made all the auto- 
mata and apparatus thereafter used by Fawkes, and, in 


A very rare mezzotint of Christopher Pinchbeck, Jr., combining the work 
of Cunningham, the greatest designer, and William Humphrey, the greatest 
portrait etdier of his day. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 



sold for 35,000 francs. The historic temple of magic 
still stands under the title of ''Theatre Robert-Houdin," 
under the management of M. Melies, a maker of mo- 
tion picture films. 
During my investigations in Paris, I was shocked to 

The last photograph taken of Robert-Houdin and used as the frontispiese for 
the original French edition of his *' Memoirs," published in 1868. 

find how little the memory of Robert-Houdin was revered 
and how little was known of France's greatest magician. 
In fact, I was more than once informed that Robert- 
Houdin was still alive and giving performances at the 
theatre which bears his name. 



Contemporary magicians of Robert-Houdin and men 
of high repute in other walks of life seem to agree that 
Robcrt-Houdin was an entertainer of only average merit. 
Among the men who advanced this theory were the late 
Henry Evanion of whose deep interest in magic I wrote 
in the introduction, Sir William Clayton who was Robert- 
Houdin's personal friend in London, Ernest Basch who 
saw Robert-Houdin in Berlin, and T. Bolin of Moscow, 
Russia, who bought all his tricks in Paris and there saw 
Robert-Houdin and studied his work as a conjurer. 

Robert-Houdin's contributions to literature, all of 
which are eulogistic of his own talents, are as follows: 

"Confidence et Revelations," pubhshed in Paris in 
1858 and translated into English by Lascelles Wraxall, 
with an introduction by R. Shelton Mackenzie. 

"Les Tricheries des Grecs" (Card-Sharping Exposed), 
published in Paris in 1861. 

"Secrets de la Prestidigitation" (Secrets of Magic), 
published in Paris in 1868. 

"Le Prieure" (The Priory, being an account of his 
electrically equipped house), pubhshed in Paris in 1867. 

"Les Radiations Lumineuses," pubhshed in Blois in 

"Exploration de la Retinue," published in Blois, 1869. 

"Magic ct Physique Amusante" (oeuvre posthume), 
published in Paris in 1877, six years after Robert-Houdin's 

In his autobiography, Robcrt-Houdin makes specific 

claim to the honor of having invented the following 

tricks: The Orange Tree, Second Sight, Suspension, 

The CabaKstic Clock. The Inexhaustible Bottle, The 

4 [49] 


Pastry Cook of the Palais Royal, The Vaulting Trapeze 
Automaton, and the Writing and Drawing Figure. 

His fame, which has been sung by writers of magic 
without number since his death, rests principally on the 
invention of second sight, suspension, and the writing and 
drawing automaton. It is my intention to trace the true 
history of each of these tricks and of all others to which 
he laid claim as inventor, and show just how small a 
proportion of the credit was due to Robert-Houdin and 
how much he owed to magicians who preceded him 
and whose brain-work he claimed as his own. 




ROBERT-HOUDIN, on page 179 of the American 
edition of his "Memoirs," thus describes the 
orange-tree trick, which he claims as his inven- 
tion: "The next was a mysterious orange-tree, 
on wnich flowers and fruit burst into life at the request of 
the ladies. As the finale, a handkerchief I borrowed 
was conveyed into an orange purposely left on the tree. 
This opened and displayed the handkerchief, which two 
butterflies took by the comers and unfolded before the 

On page 245 of the same volume he presents the 
programme given at the first public performance in the 
Theatre Robert-Houdin, stating: 

"The performance will be composed of entirely novel 
Experiments invented by M. Robert-Houdin. Among 
them being The Orange-Tree, etc." 

Now to retrace our steps in the history of magic as set 
forth in handbills and advertisements of earlier and con- 
temporaneous newspaper clippings describing their in- 

Under the title of "The Apple-Tree" this mechanical 
trick appeared on a Fawkes programme dated 1730. This 
was 115 years before Robert-Houdin claimed it as his 
invention. In 1732, just before Pinchbeck's death, it 



appeared on a programme used by Christopher Pinchbedt,, 
Sr., and the younger Fawkcs. In 1784 it was included iftH 
the repertoire of the Italian conjurer, Pinetti, in the guise . 
of '*Le Bouquet philosophique.'* In 1822 the same 
trick, but this time called "An Enchanted Garden," 

was featured by M, Comillot, 
who appeared in England as the 
pupil and successor of Pinetti- 

The trick was first explained ' 
in jmblic print by Henri De* 
crcmps in 1784 when his famous 
cxpf)se of Pinctti was published 
undur the title of ''La Magie 
Blanche Devoilee/' and in 1786- 
87 b(Jth Halle and Wieglcb ex- 
posed the trick completely 
their resfK'ctive works on magic, 

That Robert-Houdin was 
omnivorous reader is proven 
his own writings. That he knew 
the history and tricks of Pinetti 
is proven by his own words, for in Chapter VI- of his 
"Memoirs" he devoted fourteen pages to Pinetti and the 
latter's relations with Torrini. 

Now to prove that the tree tricks ofTcred by Fawk^ 
Pinchbeck, Pinetti, ComiUot, and Robert-Houdin werei 
practically one and the same, and to tell something of 
the history of the four magicians who featured the trick 
before Robert-Houdin had been heard of: 

Unquestionably, the real inventor of the mysterioi 
tree was Christopher Pinchbeck, who was England 


Diag:nitn of tlie tminpt'-tnt^ 
trick, f nun Wit^gU^b'ti " The 
Natural Magic/' publislu-d in 


Christopher Pinchbeck, Sr. ^ This is the oldest and rarest authentic mezzotint in the 
^orld. pertaining to the history of magic. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 



leading mechanical genius at the close of the seventeenth 
century and the beginning of the eighteenth. He was a 
man of high repute, whose history is not that of the 
charlatan, compiled largely from tradition, but it can be 

Mall, fjiotif th H«y*Maika, h it k pin The 

0ai'^\ii^ >fr FINCH B)-CK, 

tPtm 4>t nM lb Mr fteit. tf^e MAfiiific#«t« n| Hfti«<- 

lWl3«lLc^)E of the (^iBil4| «^d Kulpuie, mb4 ihc 

rv^iiir ftt ni*j»Uig f\g\ntt in«li-i ii ibe nv, It r^i- 

lit ri«c« rf Ajt thsL |i«i K*«^ |«i fpoett'^ in Europe^ 

re th< Tttv T tei« »i «tU u Uftitcii vicfren i« ma^t^ 

i( ii^tnuM jiiiif LCKi«p4:N i^ tbt iij^mc^d^ oj hit hil>p^ 

li iU Q p>r [ ' «mvi od f < v ztii iKftnJBCnti |h« fvi i^i f of pih^ V 

nKcUcnr r;<irc3 of Wii!itl» cPinpotM fcj Mi. MAHT>]it,€o J^ 

mtf> lucb x^ndfihil t,x4AiKriLi tttv {{^rce uttf H«ad Ckq ^ 

■fy tif Riid i« « tirreiii t ht rtlpc^ vr N oiei ^^^ ibr Kj|,him-^ ^ 
l^ilf,W0{Mil'iik/v'UL'lroo> 6cj^ iic p^tottptd to fu (;,fii « ^^ 
i'rifcifiii^'s M not co bc^Uid|iiia«d fromNjiurc ii f^t\ ^ 
Wi ► t? If erml ethti giAnd 1^ « f&f m-iui* * o > r iliuit to mea- * 
tiOTT. fiicn f I. »*, 1(4 *nd n, Ta bs t«CQ l^rocn la '^ 
lA'rbe Morm»^ tilt ic Ki|hi» bj rw(»^ cr nkore, wiitiouc '''•. 
Wt (f Unit. «^ ' 

Nttft tHi* r^noiu Huhiae vlU be cnnovEd id • frw , ^ 
Djyi otu Pu3i bit dcE to ihCi^fiTivctJilBFkctlliarJ^^ 

Clipping from the London Daily Post of Noveml)er 30th, 1728. Used bf 
Christopher Pinchbeck before he joined Fawkes. From the Hany Houdim 

corroborated by court records, biographical works, and 
encyclopaedias, as well as by contemporaneous newspaper 

According to Vol. XLV. of the " Dictionary of National 
Biography," edited by Sidney Lee and published in 1896 
by Smith, Elder & Co., 15 Waterloo Place, London: 
"Christopher Pinchbeck was bom about 1670, possibly 



in Clerkenwell, London. He was a clockmaker and 
inventor of the copper and zinc alloy called after his name. 
He invented and made the famous astronomico-musical 
clock. In Appleby's Weekly Journal of July 8th, 1721, 

/ft;FA\VKFS's Theatre, 

In Jamei^htd^ mar th Haf^mmktu 

he pnf^medth foilm'mg EMermimn^ms A 

Fidijtf I^^ DivertiiiE and Incomparulja 

^ ,A^ I>Eit¥*iiTT oTHjimij, in which EC Ast;»ria 

; P« vipift iHe Tabrti wliich aOI b!uw M btir rfK Fmae io^ 
c MirtusciF Tune, -^ 

TjitrJ* "The Muiia^t Ciocit, wnb srv^) miivlng Piaurt* 

NwT^h* file Vfijri; jTiAjr MAem*E, te^qi T?ic gutft pftcc 
pf WtjrlimiuQiip jn p^c WoilJ, for n»o¥in^ pAurtijiud otbct 

chtliyi Liiffi(ri«Kij<»VJ«t*ta[ iHJmlrj^*, ilie beaut tful RrJflcivV 

the »T li« ^C4:ttnj'. ax tii a N;;t ^fm;r.rr t^CmiJ? rtte 
Octti n »P fo .fpmfci re J, hv-di SJ , , ■ . . , . t^o , " f--v-ri t 

rJiq ^ ViT*r, a J « lhc> pi r, br a, , ; " ' ^*- ' '" 

J,\^p, E wry Nkibt nn: p i „ ■ ...... .. L. , ^.1 f feot &! the f. 

J. T[»c Clrlf D^f G«'« Ittihe £)n1arJiin of ?i;ir|;^ Ifi Ccrtiwti*, , 
U, rhrf^-r^oF .Vjf^ii^TrBln PuJutiriii BijiJEji, ■ i 

: Siin, the J- f^llHB- 

■Of lu* ic. 


1 ; fin, ^ 

Advertisement from the London Daily Post during 1730, showing the orange 
tree as oflFered by the senior Fawkes, just previous to his death. From the 
Harry Houdini Collection, 

it was announced that ^ Christopher Pinchbeck, inventor 
and maker of the astronomico-musical clock, is removed, 
from St. George's Court (now Albion Place) to the sign 
of the '^ Astronomico-Musical Clock" in Fleet Street, near 
the Leg Tavern. He maketh and selleth watches of all 
sorts and clocks as well for the exact indication of the 



time only as astronomical, for showing the various 
motions and phenomena of planets' and fixed stars.' 
Mention is also made of musical automata in imitation of 
singing lairds and Ixirrel organs for churches, as among 
Pinchlxxk's manufactures. 

'^Pinchlxrk was in the habit of exhibiting collections 
of his automata at fairs, sometimes in conjunction with a 
juggler named Fawkes, and he entitled his stall ^The 
Temple of the Pluses,' *(lrand Theatre of the Muses/ 
or *^Iultum in Parvo.' The Daily Journal of August 
27th, 1729, announced that the Prince and Princess of 
Wales went to the Bartholomew Fair to see hisexhibitioi] 
and there were brief advertisements in Tlu Daily Post 
June 12th, 1729, and tlie Daily Journal of August 23^ 
and 23d, 1729. I'here is still a large broadside in the 
British Museum (1850 c. 10-17) headed 'Multum in 
Parvo/ relating to Pinchbeck's exhibition, with a bL 
left for i)lace and date, evidently intended for use as 
poster. He died November 18th, 1732; was buried Nt 
vember 21st, in St. Denison's Church, Fleet Street. 

'^In a copy of the Gn///(';;/nz\v Magazine, printed 1732J 
page 1083, there is an engraved portrait by I. FabefJ 
after a painting by Isaac Wood, a reproduction of whicl 
appears in 'Britten's Clock and Watch Maker,* page 122."' 
His will, dated November loth, 1732, was proved in 
London on November T8th/' 

During one of his engagements at the Bartholomew 
Fair, Pinchbeck probably met Fawkes, the cleverest 
sleight-of-hand performer that magic has ever known, 
and the two joined forces. Pinchbeck made all the auto- 
mata and apparatus thereafter used by Fawkes, and, in 


A very rare mezzotint of Christopher Pinchbeck, Jr., combining the work 
Gunningjham, the greatest designer, and William Humphrey, the greatest 
trait etdier of his day. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 



Fawkes, he had a master-producer of his tricks. Christo- 
pher Pinchbeck never appeared on the program used by 
Fawkes, save as the maker of the automata or apparatus, 
but directly after the death of the elder Fawkes, and 
a few months before his own, the elder Pinchbeck ap- 
peared with the son of his deceased partner, and was 
advertised as doing "the Dexterity of Hand'' performance. 
This indicates that he was inducting young Fawkes into 
all the mysteries of the profession at which the two elder 
men, as friends and business partners, had done so well. 

Christopher Pinchbeck was survived by two sons, 
Edward and Christopher, Jr. Edward, the elder, suc- 
ceeded to his father's shop and regular business. He was 
born about 1703, and was well along in years when he 
entered into his patrimony, which he advertised in The 
^Daily Post of November 27th, 1732, as follows: "The 
toys made of the late Mr. Pinchbeck's curious metal are 
now sold only by his son and sole executor, Mr. Edward 

This announcement settles forever the oft-disputed 
question as to whether the alloy of copper and zinc which 
bears the name of Pinchbeck was invented by Christopher 
Pinchbeck, Sr., or by his son Christopher, Jr. 

All newspaper and magazine descriptions of the auto- 
mata invented by the elder Pinchbeck indicate that his 
hand was as cunning as his brain was inventive, for they 
showed the most delicate mechanism, and included entire 
landscapes with figures of rare grace in motion. 

'^ Christopher, the second son of Christopher Pinch- 
beck the elder," continues the biographical sketch, **was 
born about 17 10 and possessed great mechanical ingenuity. 



While the elder son, Edward, was made executor and 
continued his father's trade in a quiet, conservative 
fashion, the younger son struck out along new lines and 

The best portrait of Isaac Fawkes in existence. The original, now in the 
Harry Houdini Collection, is supposed so have been engraved by Sutton 
Nichols. It is said that there is only one more of these engravings extant. 

became even more famous as an inventor than his brill- 
iant father had been. 



"He was a member and at one time president of the 
Smeatonian Society, the precursor of the Institution of 
Civil Engineers. In 1702 he devised a self-acting pneu- 
matic brake for preventing accidents to the men employed 
in working wheel -cranes. In The Gentlemen^ s Magazine 
for June, 1765, page 296, it is recorded that Messrs. 
Pinchbeck and Norton had made a complicated astro- 

' di ll« Cedt ^ni Half M^an Tmttm 'ht €^99rtt}*Um 

rm. famous Mr*FAW13 

1 pf . h <r^ ite^ tmjA lofivliiiM Trictt W 
I r^rio^f TprJi^ ^f^ Mi^ m^mSR 

perJ^rm^ii 9v tot Pfnw*Mi|Br, brW * 
feur L«n, jfidbotonr tenjy, it, ,hf ^rtutfrt-^n of alt HgiOs^ 

An early Fawkes advertisement, clipped from a Tendon paper of 1725. 

From tlie Harry Houdiiii Collection. 

nomical clock for the Queen's house, some of the cal- 
culations of the wheel having been made by James Fer- 
guson, the astronomer. There is no proof that Pinchbeck 
and Norton were ever in partnership, and there are now 
two clocks answering to the description at Buckingham 
Palace, one by Pinchbeck, with four dials and of a very 
complicated construction, and another by Norton. 

"Pinchbeck took out three patents: the first (No. 892), 

granted 1768, was for an improved candlestick with a 



spring socket for holding the candle firmly, and an 
arrangement whereby the candle always occupied an 
upright position, however the candlestick might be held. 
In 1768 (patent No. 899) he patented his nocturnal 
remembrancer, a series of tablets with notches, to serve 
as guides for writing in the dark. His snuflFers (No. 11 19) 
patented 1776, continued to be made in Birmingham 

ally Poft. :» 

iPAY^ January 2t, i7a&. ^ 

'h fame^fhret, Pt^ the ff^-Msttitt^ u u 

FI R S T, his furprizuig ^t^ - 
iCfi^J^ U TliB(l, fir atcftdrr^ id thii trti 
^ ^^A J^tSj*"" " 1° tpi'' Ki-teJ** If!- The £k^cut 

I tt^uNvki-^l t1 Lift it TcLr Aii^HFu .^(ttvCiV 


cf The PiLii«<N tijube^ H« lift ^ kJM 

I <Tud^^con. PcWcini'J b> tbc nJch>±i} phU .L^r^fil% Vifnm ihsn^ 

W« f 

IHj(u ^ hrtJ^Lrm imo lH«blc i:]i T r^i '.^ ':':>' V-*":^!^ ivi^.h aC lKf ChiLife* .rf 
SftOK 1.I1^ iJKWlTiotii bchftflitins ■■ .^r 1^4 V f^ B^ St»C j(lkH:ri rfiWbc 

A dipping from the QMy Post, London showing that Fawkes combined 
forces with Powel, the famous Bartholomew Fair puppet man. From the 
Harry Houdini Collection. 

until the last forty years or so, when snuflFers began to 
go out of use. In 1774 he presented to the Society of Arts 
a model of a plough for mending roads. Pinchbeck's 
name first appears in the London directory in 1778, when 
it replaced that of Richard Pinchbeck, toyman, of whom 
nothing is recorded. 

"Christopher Pinchbeck, Jr., was held in considerable 

esteem by George III., and he figures in Wilkes' London 



Museum (ii-33) in 1770 in the list of the party who 
called themselves the King's friends. He died March 1 7th, 
1783, aged 73, and was buried in St. Martin's-in-the- 
Fields. His will, which was very curious, is printed in 
full in The Horological Journal of November, 1895. O^^ 
of his daughters married William Hebb, who was described 
as 'son-in-law and successor of the late Mr. Pinchbeck 
at his shop in Cockspur Street ' (imprinted on Pinchbeck's 
portrait), whose son Christopher Henry Hebb (1772- 
1861) practised as a surgeon in Worcester. There is in 
existence a portrait of Christopher Pinchbeck the younger, 
by Cunningham, engraved by W. Humphrey." 

The mezzotints of the Pinchbecks, father and son, 
herewith reproduced, are extremely rare, and when I un- 
earthed them in Berlin I felt myself singularly favored 
in securing two such treasures of great value to the history 
of magic. S. Wohl, the antiquarian and dealer from 
whom they were purchased, acquired them during a tour 
of old book and print shops in England, and thought them 
portraits of one and the same person ; but by studying the 
names of the artists and the engravers on the two pic- 
tures, it will be seen that they set forth the features of 
father and son, as indicated by the biographical notes 
quoted above. 

Of the early history of Fawkcs, whose brilliant stage 

performance lent to the Pinchbeck autom.ata a new lustre, 

Httle is known. It is practically impossible to trace his 

family history. His Christian name was never used on 

his billing nor published in papers or magazines, and 

after repeated failures I was about to give up the task 

of discovering it, when in 1904, aided by R. Bennett, 



the clerk of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields Parish Church, 
Trafalgar Square, London, England, I came upon the rec- 
ord of his burial. This record, which I found after many 
days' search among musty, faded parchments, showed 
that his Christian name was Isaac, and that he died May 
25th or 29th, 1 73 1, and was buried in St. Martin's-in- 
the-Fields Parish Church. 

The records further show that he was buried in the 

FlRSr his Famous Pofture^Tallernliat 

Mii^l TtmHc ff ^r*i, Wirb riw tiKKvhig pi6uifj» the dijci i 
Conctn 8^f Mnfick, [he kKct iSe Sjcte »Ji(l Eaj of GJbnltic, 
bcTncttfw fincftPico; d Cts^k^ivprk iFuhcVVorld. jd, f,uoEhet 
hljcKiiK mih ihttt inrn^iii^ Piaurt*, tie fir ft i^prtfttits M Hil 
tif PiTittfTMs, with A[toTK> a lit! the Niirf ^^t:fc« pJirlnj on niwds 
Injtrrtincm fl^^V||f[ck, :hc itfjtr 1 bflarifii] ^Hnr t/i Hitcr* niiihi 
^yfias isNiuthcr FjwIj 4^(1 Fi^T, fi^>tciufl u rtwi" Ali^^ Tri« lift I 
giKE & Ptttjpeaof ihe 1^ ivPikcF y:srJj irith the whole Pro- 
cil&^ij ^f iht laffi O>rnratfon<rf iKpir p»rc[it Miieftfti nurch- 
big from the Hill r^ ehe Abbeys 

, Note, Rilf chc Ptftonniicc cmY be P^ptdiM iti thli AilYCr- 


Clipping from the London Post during 1728, showing the oldest evidence 
procurable of the original "Two a Night" performance. From the Harry 
Houdini Collection. 

church vault, the coffin being carried by six men. Prayers 
were said in the church, candles were used, and the great 
bell was tolled. As the fees amounted to £6 12s., a goodly 
sum for those days^ all signs indicate that the funeral was 
on a scale more costly and impressive than the ordinary. 

Fawkes was worth at his death ;£io,ooo, which was 
considered an enormous sum in those days. Every 
penny of this he made performing at the fairs. 

The earliest announcements of Fawkes' performance 
in my collection are dated 1702 and include advertise- 



ments headed "Fawkcs and Powel," "Fawkes and 
Phillips/' and "Fawkes and Pinchbeck." Powel was the 
famous puppet man, Phillips a famous posture master 
(known to-day as contortionist), and Pinchbeck was the 
greatest of mechanicians. Fawkes seems to have pos- 
sessed a singular gift for picking out desirable partners. 
From this mass of evidence I am producing various 


'By ftrwj^^K, 

Clipping from the London Post, February 7th, 1724, in which Fawkes 
announces his retirement and offers to teach his tricks to all comers. Below this 
announcement is the advertisement of Clench, famous as an imitator and an 

clippings. By a peculiar coincidence one of these I 
believe offers the most authentic and earliest record of 
"two a night" performances in England. 

In my collection are a number of other clippings from 
the press of the same year, in April and May, 1728, but 
none of them says "twice a night," therefore I judge 



that the custom of giving two perfoimances in a night 
was tried previously to April, 1728, and then abandoned, 
or after the first of May. 

In the London Post of February 7th, 1724, Fawkes 
announced an exhibition *4n the Long Room over the 
pmzza, at the Opera House in the Haymarket." At this 
time he also advertised the fact that he was about to retire 
and was exposing all his tricks. The chpping of that 
date from my collection has the following foot-note: 
''Likewise he designs to follow this business no longer 

1' ^TT I^ is to give Notice, That the ^mous 
. Mr. V*iW%S. ar ait *«jfh m Wc^fl'Stntrkfidrf. pfl-fercM th% 
ft^iQWioi ioAti (u^ft^'juL T/icht. iTfef r * new W t^id^ »^j, ^- it\tt 
fnrrnpt} PU)^ ti!i U On rSc Tii^ri od r^brni it ftytril Tlno in&Ar 

C^uid mJ Stifirt , iHn\ 3;)tC Bw bcj^innixjl to iWf n* fcwml Scmv of 

Cirdi;, «nd £Ja( ^ &'tm lo hi: liTiFig ftird* ftj^i^ ihott t^ii; RiyiTfi. g^ 
fXMfkt livifw: ?ejrtj, Hiftlv md otbtr CrtBrttrtrFio tppfdr spamSie T>. 

Bi)T» >ti* I [ i'ein iJ ^3f. Who prfif^m ah ?v<: xe^ fiTTpTStirra A(5- 

&!ll!Dtd 9 f ^KH bj^t'^. in*l IvniJa KtJiwiri uH hl# wM< fr:^f htfiagt ' 
h*kw liiiUiff. ■:j(i rifcijgjin viifir^c ttjjf fel^ tij hij M*rkt(, Hfc 
fiiIfBl*fTnftVf^ tt>ii hcfiuctq t-wD CAjin, vtiile he p***^ upon tfce 

imtiettioill irii^ t»> fc^lh live Pcrfarmcf s roo n^dlQltf hcFC tet KiPti^Tb ' 
ThtiV HouTi, PT^y O'.f, fitim $ fi "J^ Mijrobn tin ^ nr Jiflftht, rtt 

Qippine from the London Daily Post of August, 1735, in which Fawkes 
advertises his admission price as twelvepence. From the Harry Houdini 

than this season; so he promises to learn any lady or 
gentleman his fancies in dexterity of hand for their own 

When Fawkes was not in partnership with some puppet 
showman, he always advertised his own puppets as "A 
court of the richest and largest figures ever shown in 
England, being as big as men and women!" His ad- 
mission charges varied, but 12 pence seemed his favorite 
5 [65] 


figure. About six years before his death he had his own 
theatre in James Street, near the Haymarket, in which 
he exhibited for months at a time before and after fairs. 

I reproduce a cHpping from my collection showing 
Fawkes' last program. Here it will be seen that his first 
trick was causing a tree to grow up in a flower-pot on the 
table, and bear fruit in a minute's time. In The Gentle- 
men's Magazine^ that oft-quoted and most reliable peri- 
odical, of February 15th, 1731, readers were informed 
that the Algerian Ambassadors witnessed Fawkes' per- 

We hrar liiai yourE F^wkn arJ rindi'ici^ ire now tiL!ibj"||| 
Town fraiD the Kj[K md ^niitNLiry ( vilnr? iKey hirr^ -jb v»\ 

tJ^Kir v<rT TwrpHftn^ rcrbemjne'!! j jcid ;a «-iuM} the Tirt TjuMhip 
lAr* Fflwkait ^f^ l^i* Llir-ufne. bad (cuititiuAEcitHl aft [hoft wifiki^ 
!M Secrciivihkh f3ve [lidii kuni^rrfi! ^^EliJiftrst) lo all tiH 6|tm 

, con; AihI w* ftfe JtJtcwUc juTumJ, ihjc every pjnkubr u jit^erv^ 
In u\ uiiBon Fcrh^ioii, vtiu II U Art^bf Vjrw of iKe WorU ^ 
till (orpriiini^ Iksi<TiTr ot UaniJ, Jn H itikh ht cj(ifti t Tuc n 
fipw felt af ^ figW*F'I*ot orr ttielaLde, which M (fonH i^ be*m 
r^Iriui iQ a l^lnuTc'i 1 IfTiF i \\\% tanOat link ^o^4u1:r^^fifl£^af' 
Itvtn Y«r« old/ t At l4 be <^qHj4J'd in Europe, viho Itlieullc ett- 
foims m the (ucli Ri^pe \o AdmiritiDti i hit cntcniiT)iag Mu^l 
CkxJr, with two iKsutiFwl mjjtrtng HdutTi^ ariJ 5n Avwiy df lllr^ 
difiiiufzl 4J Life Hldlf I alio 3 curiiKit VertsiSan M^chir^^ltHit^^ 
b^ ill ArtUii to t: the Qiidi Piece of WcTkcmnHiip bn tt>B w«rJd{ 
lU which furprFKirf^ frttrr»lninciiii ^t b^sr v£t Ik peif -Titled Qcn 
We«^ at the Jii^ Mr. ^julfci'i Thcitre. at the «ll TcfinlKOfKUt 

\ injaiaghft rcci ittu_^ the Hi> mitkei, ^ /7^£ * . _ . . 

Clipping from the London Post, showing that young Fawkes collaborated 
with rinchbeck and together they offered the orange-tree trick in 1732. From 
the Harry Houdini Collection. 

formance. At their request he showed them "a prospect 

of Algiers, and raised up an apple- tree which bore ripe 

fruit in less than a minute's time, which several of the 

company tasted of." 

Fawkes, too, had a son, and thus the partnership and 

the friendship which had existed between the elder 

Fawkes and the elder Pinchbeck were carried on by the 

second generation. All of the marvellous apparatus made 



by Pinchbeck the elder, for Fawkes, may have been 
bequeathed by the latter to his son, but, in 1732, Pinch- 
beck the elder and Fawkes the younger were in a booth 
together, and Pinchbeck was advertised as doing "the 
dexterity of hand" performances. After Christopher 

JnWfJI Smkbfietd.fwni the IVhtu Hart Ak- 

DURING the (hart Time nf eattholomei*. 
and end* 1 1? TliMrnijff.ibwiiiii, rh^ iHjl^tici iviii b-di' 

y^u\ *! fuch grfat Ap^iianfrj vit 

^ril, Pavi^ka's J4iw*iiij>»fii,[£ DcKWtfy of Hind, who 
pcrTc^nTis ftTrtr-il Ibriiriii/iH lixlzU tncirtk- jifrt , and 
vcfy ciLrifHt^ 

Sc^ydjjr xbi arriitzijis Mufic^ti Clqck, wkli two curium 

TMuii^ tht flick fin|ic ro rtie Ar/mir4(inn of «II i tiMt li*v« 
frth him, sunl riretL^dssuy ii»m;ti n Mi* Kind in f-^s/tiiiCv 

m UorkiuuiiL^> in \ht VS'nTtd, iti? M-tthmery coiiliftiiig 
of » *u Vificfy ftf A^ov Ui^^ figiiTt'^ »]id manv atbcr iniini- 
t*t«t CiirtoJifiPit, -P 

Fifthly, TSiac fine Picir tif ^rjchinfrf , rlie ArtifiLia) . 
iVliW nj iljc Ufa kf, ^vbtfTiii i^c iUf^n V-*TiLr> of dJ^iaoi 

- 1 lie Rii et of ti linics. 

a, Thf City rirfjjriiitl Qdro k Egrr*- 

|. A Pfo^i^^t qf d)i! Town, Ffln ^od Baj^ of Gibntott, 

L^^jKl ic Tph u bit^lar. 

A-^ M. 17 3 6 

CKpping from the London "Body August 16th, 1736, when young Fawkes was 
playing alone. From the Hany Houdini Collection. 

Pinchbeck, Sr., died, young Fawkes started out on his 
own account. In 1746, according to an advertisement in 
my collection, a Fawkes and a Pinchbeck were together 
again, so the son of Pinchbeck must have joined the 
younger Fawkes for exhibition purposes. The accom- 
panying clippings from contemporary publications trace 
the history of young Fawkes, and prove that the tree 



which bore fruit in a minute's time was still on his pro- 

For many years it was supposed that only one portrait 
of Fawkes was in existence, but it now seems that three 
were made. I publish them all, something which no one 
has ever before been able to do. One was taken from 
a Setchels fan published about 1728, although some 

Reproduction of pa^ H-iG of Hone's **Every-Day Book" in tbe Hany 
Houdini Collection, l^liis Is a portniit of Fawkes, engruN-ed on a fan by 
Setchels in 17^1 or 1748. Fans like these were distributed at the Barthciloinew 

authorities say 1721. It appeared in Hone's "Every- 
Day Book," page 1226. Another, I believe, was en- 
graved by Sutton Nicols, as Hone mentions it in his 
description of Fawkes. In the fan engraving, it will be 

noticed that there appears a man wearing a star on his 



left breast. It is said that this is Sir Robert Walpole, 
who was Prime Minister while Fawkes was at the height 
of his success, and who was one of the conjurer's great 
admirers. Hogarth also placed Fawkes in one of his 
engravings as the frontispiece of a most diverting 
brochure on "Taste," in which he belittles Burlington 
Gate. This makes the third portrait from my collec- 
tion herewith reproduced. 

According to an article contributed by Mons. E. Ray- 
naly in the Illusionniste of June, 1903, the orange tree 
next appeared in the repertoire of a remarkable peasant 
conjurer, whose billing Mons. Raynaly found among 
^^Affiches de Paris." This performer was billed as the 
Peasant of North Holland, and gave hourly performances 
at the yearly fairs at Saint-Germain. 

It is more than possible that he purchased this trick 
from Fawkes or Pinchbeck, having seen it at the Bar- 
tholomew Fair in England. 

He featured the orange tree as follows: '^He has a 
Philosophical Flower Pot, in which he causes to grow on 
a table in the presence of the spectators trees which flower, 
and then the flowers fall, and fruit appears absolutely 
ripe and ready to be eaten." 

His posters are dated 1746-47 and 1751. 

The next programme on which the mysterious tree ap- 
pears is a Pinetti handbill, dated in London, 1784, when 
the following announcement was made : 

"Signore Pinetti will afterwards present the assembly 
with a Tree called Le Bouquet-philosophique composed 
of small branches of an orange-tree, the leaves appearing 
green and natural. He will put it under a bottle, and at 





some distance, by throwing some drops of water of his 
own composition, the leaves will begin to change and 
the bouquet will produce natural flowers and various 

Pinetti is one of the most fascinating and picturesque 
figures in the history of magic. His full name was Joseph 
Pinetti de Willedal, and, like Pinchbeck and Fawkes, he 
was a man of parts and readily made friends with the 
nobility. In fact, there is some question as to whether 
he did not come of a noble family. 

He was bom in 1750 in Orbitelle, a fortified town once 
claimed by Tuscany. What can be gleaned regarding 
his early history goes to prove that his family connections 
were excellent and his education of the best. One of his 
portraits, reproduced herewith, shows a half-crown of 
laurel decorating the frame, and on one side of the bust is 
a globe, while in the rear of the picture is a stack of books. 
This would establish his claim that he was once a professor 
of physics and geography. In fact, the legend beneath 
the portrait, being translated from the French, runs: 

"I. I. Pinetti Willedal de Merci, Professor and Dem- 
onstrator of Physics, Chevalier of the Order of St. Philipe, 
Geographical Engineer, Financial Counselor of H.R.H. 
Prince of Linbourg Holstein, Bom in Orbitelle in 1750." 

As it has so often happened in the history of savants 
and students, there ran in Pinetti's blood a love of the mys- 
terious with that peculiar strain of charalatanism which 
went to make up the clever performer in old-time magic. 
Evidently he resigned his duties as a professor for the 
more picturesque life of the travelling magician, and he is 
first heard from in this capacity in the French provinces 



in 1783. His fame quickly carried him to Paris, where 
in 1784 he appeared before the court of Louis XVI. 
His arrival was most opportune, for just then all Paris 

A wood-cut used by Pinetti during his engagement at Hamburg, Grermany, in 
October, 1796. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 

and, for that matter, all Europe had been aroused to a 
new interest in magic by the brilliant Cagliostro. 

From Paris he went to London, playing at the Hay- 
market and creating a sensation equal to that which he 
made in France. Later he toured Germany, playing in 



Berlin and Hamburg. Next he went back to his native 
land, Italy, but later returned to Germany for a second 
engagement. In 1789 he appeared in Russia and never 

The only authentic portrait of Pinetti in existence, the only known copy 
extant being in the Harry Houdini Collection. 

left that country. There he married a Russian girl, 
daughter of a carriage manufacturer. They had two 
children. Pinetti would have left enormous wealth, but 



in his later years he became interested in ballooning, 
the sensation of the hour, and spent his entire fortune 
on balloon experiments. He died in BartichoflF, Volhinie, 
aged fifty years. 

Pinetti was a man of rare inventive genius and almost 


Henri Decremps, the French author who exposed and endeavored to ruin 
Pinetti, but succeeded only in immortalizing him. 

reconstructed the art of conjuring, so numerous were his 
inventions. For half a century after his death his suc- 
cessors drew upon Pinetti's inventions and repertoire for 
their programmes. Naturally such ability aroused bitter 
jealousies, especially as Pinetti made no attempt to con- 



ciliate his contemporaries, either magicians or writers on 
magic. He issued one book, whose title-page reads: 

"Amusements Physiques et Differentes Experiences Di- 
vertissements, Composees et Executees, tant a Paris que 
dans les diverses Courts de TEurope. Par M. Joseph 
Pinetti de Willedal, Romain, Chevalier de TOrdre Merite 
de Saint-Phillipe, Professeur de Mathematiques et de 
Physiques, Protege par toute la Maison Royale de France, 
Pensionnaire de la Cour de Prusse, etc., 1785." 

The work, however, was not a clear and lucid explana- 
tion of his methods and tricks. In fact some of his con- 
temporaries claimed that he deliberately misrepresented 
his methods of performing tricks. Among these writers 
was Henri Decremps, a brilliant professor of mathematics 
and physics in Paris, who proceeded to expose all of 
Pinetti^s tricks in the book referred to in the preceding 
chapter, "La Magie Blanche Devoilee." This work was 
in five volumes and was so popular in its day that it was 
translated into nearly every modern language. The fol- 
lowing explanation of the trick is taken from page 56 of the 
English translation, entitled " The Conjurer Unmasked " : 

"The branches of the tree may be made of tin or 
paper, so as to be hollow from one end to the other in 
order that the air which enters at the bottom may find its 
exit at the top of the branch. These branches are so 
adjusted that at intervals there appear twigs made from 
brass wire, but the whole so decorated with leaves made 
from parchment that the ensemble closely resembles 

"The end of each branch is dilated to contain small 
pieces of gummed silk or very fine gold-beater's skin, 



which are to catch the figures of the flowers and fruit 
when the latter expand by the air driven through the 
branches to which they were fastened by a silk thread. 
*^The tree or nosegay is then placed on a table, through 
^ >f^ -ji which runs a glass tube to supply 

^^ "^^^y^^ air from beneath the stage, where 
a confederate works this end of 
the trick, and causes the tree to 
'grow' at the prearranged sig- 

u^l^l^r^'^^L I^ater it was described as being 
page of a cony of his i)ook accomplished entirely by springs, 

now in the Harry lloudini ^ j j r- o y 

Library. and real oranges were first stuck 

on the tree by means of pegs or 
pins, and the leaves were so secured around them that at 
first appearance they could not be seen. Then a piston 
was used to spread all the leaves, another that forced 
the blossom up through the hollow branches, etc. 

Pinetti's personality was almost' as extraordinary as 
his talents. A handsome man who knew how to carry 
himself, acquiring the graces and the dress of the nobility, 
he became rather haughty, if not arrogant, in his bearing. 
He so antagonized his contemporaries in the fields of 
magic and literature that he was advertised as much by 
his bitter enemies as by his loving friends. Many of his 
methods of attracting attention to himself were singularly 
like those employed by modern press agents of theatrical 
stars. He never trusted to his performances in theatres 
and drawing-rooms to advertise his abilities, but demon- 
strated his art wherever he appeared, from barber-shops 
to cafes. 



Perhaps the best pen pictures of Pinetti and his methods 
are furnished by E. G. Robertson in his "Memoirs." 
Robertson was a contemporary of Pinetti, and, like him, 
a pioneer in ballooning. His "Memoirs," written in the 
French language, were published in 1831. The following 
extracts from this interesting book tell much of Pinetti's 
life in Russia and of his professional history as tradi- 
tion and actual acquaintance had presented it to M. 

"Pinetti had travelled a great deal and for a long time 
had enjoyed a great European reputation. He had done 
everything to attain it. There was never a man that 
carried further the art of the ^charlatisme.' When he 
arrived in a town where he intended to give a show, he 
took good care to prepare his public by speeches, which 
would keep it in suspense. In St. Petersburg great and 
incredible examples of mystification and of prestidigi- 
tation were told about him. 

"One day he went to a barber-shop to get shaved, sat 
down in the chair, had the towel tied around his neck, 
and laid his head back ready for the lather. The barber 
left him in this position to get hot water, and when he 
returned, guided by force of habit, he applied the lather 
where the chin should be, but he found feet, arms, hands, 
and body in a coat, but no bead! Such lamentations! 
No mofq head! What could it mean? He opened the 
door, and, frightened to death, ran away. Pinetti then 
went to the window and called the barber back. He 
had put his head in his coat in such a clever way, covering 
it with his handkerchief, that the surprise and the fright 
of the barber were quite natural. Of course this barber 



Frontispiece of Pinetti's book, "Amusements Physiques," pub- 
lished in Paris, 1785, one of the first treasures of the Evanion Collec- 
tion purchased by the author. 

[78] . ' 


did not fail to spread over the whole town that he had 
shaved a man who could take his head off and on to his 

"Pinetti met in a summer-garden a young Russian who 
sold small cakes. He bought a few cakes, bit into them, 
and complained of finding a hard substance. The youth 
protested, but Pinetti opened the cake before him and 
found inside a gold piece. The magician pocketed the 
gold piece, bought another cake, then a third cake, and in 

Pinetti's autograph, written by him on the back of the frontispiece, reproduced 
on page 78. Original in the Harry Iloudini Collection. 

each case found a new gold piece inside. He tried to buy 
the rest of the cakes. The passers-by had in the mean 
time come round the seller, and everybody wanted to buy 
as well. The market seemed to be all right, a ducat for 
a kopeck! Twelve francs for a cent! The young man 
refused to sell any more, hurried away, and when alone 
opened the cakes that were left. He found only the 
substances of which the cakes were made — nothing else. 



He had two left, so he hurried back to offer these to 
Pinetti. Pinetti bought them from him, opened them 
and showed in each one the gold piece, which the young 
man could not find in the two dozen cakes which he had 
spoilt. The poor boy bit his lips and looked at Pinetti 
with wondering, frightened eyes. This little adventure 
was advertised here, there, and everywhere, and was told 
in the clubs and in the society gatherings, and very soon 
the name of Pinetti gave the key to the enigma, and 
Pinetti was in demand by everybody. 

"When Pinetti came on the stage, he had the knack of 
attracting members of the nobility around his table, by 
letting them learn some small secrets. This would render 
them confederates in working his tricks. He would appear 
in rich suits, embroidered in gold, which he changed 
three and four times in the evening. He would not 
hesitate to deck himself in a quantity of foreign decora- 
tions. In Berlin it was told how Pinetti would go through 
the streets, in a carriage drawn by four white horses. He 
was clad in fine embroidery and decorated with medals 
of all nations. Several times it happened that, as he 
passed by, the soldiers would call arms and salute, taking 
him for a prince. One day the King of Prussia rode out 
in his modest carriage drawn by two horses. Ahead of 
him drove the supposed prince. When the King witnessed 
the mistake made by his soldiers, he made inquiries as 
to the rank of this man to whom his men were paying 
such honor, then gave the Cavalier Pinetti twenty-four 
hours to get beyond Prussia's borders." 

Whatever may be said of Pinetti's charlatanism, it 

must be admitted that he gave to the art of conjuring a 



great impetus which was felt for several generations. It 
is not remarkable, therefore, that when the French magi- 
cian Comillot appeared in London in 1822 he announced 
himself as the pupil and successor of Pinetti. This was 

Extraordinary Chemical IHiistratioiiiL 
^am rmlru or LsoBnnmmMM, 




At the PauTs Head Caieaton Street^ 


Jl tke Grtat itoom, m J^nimj Ganhmt^ 


•laiTTn MTinaHim ruiboiutf. mm* hi«« •» wm ,^|G7MkhM mt aidiw •■ mm 

sae-jjLir-SiJj-i-r:^ — — — — 


mrMTiM or tut ww. twwwi^iian. »>ht»yiiMi4iii<riHiBiiiiii>iaiiHMi^T»Ttirtfc 

Tu MCMCBIVABU CULUKOB Or OOaOt. M^ •urimtiiM* imlnil •-" *n<ii1n1iiii 


an^H M pHMM t, M. COKMaUT. 


Bavin MtMaTlnadw w nlimllT. thM M wiU Iw tho«clrt to praoMd from the C^^ 

».& Itiw Brn w ■■ ti —iU V Pf i M Hii l iii rf HJn»«y. Li f.ri.wU .O IW P l—i < i , 

\>W« ■»«M»fwlirf l . H i I Ji.«M.>>—«tbwiii n i hiW fc,Ktirf>iii«««. ' 

^ ^ "V***^^^ r * " '■**? ' ^*' • * * '^'" J f * * •" fcl » «l " .«W Mdl ^ .Ml* 

Reproduction of a handbill distributed on the streets of London in Sep- 
tember, 1822. The orange-tree trick is on the bill under the name of "En- 
chanted Garden." From the Harry Houdini Collection. 

when Robert-Houdin was seventeen years of age, 
twenty-three years before he made his professional debut, 
and on Comillot's programme we find another version 
of the now famous and almost familiar tree trick. As 
will be seen from the accompanying reproduction of a 
Comillot handbill, the tree now appears as "An En- 
chanted Garden," and, if the wording of the bill is to be 
6 [81] 


believed, Comillot had improved the trick and was using 
more than one tree or plant. 

Comillot remained in England for some time and is 
classed among the conjurers of good repute. Another 
bill in my collection shows that he played at the Theatre 
of Variety, Catherine Street, Strand, in October, 1823. 
He was then assisted by several singers and dancers, 
including the famous Misses Hamilton and Howe, pupils 
of M. Corri. In his company was also an Anglo-Chinese 
juggler, who, in addition to feats of juggling, "swallows 
an egg, a sword, and a stone, a la Ramo Samee." 

To sum up the evidence against Robert-Houdin in 
this .particular trick: Four magicians of high repute gave 
public performances before Robert-Houdin knew and 
operated the orange-tree trick. Three eminent writers 
exposed it clearly and accurately. Robert-Houdin, as 
an indefatigable student of the history of magic, must 
have known of the trick and its modus operandum. He 
may have purchased it from Cornillot, or as a clever 
mechanician he had only to reproduce the trick invented 
by his predecessors, train his confederate in its operation — 
and — by his cleverly written autobiography — ^attempt to 
establish his claim to its invention. 




IN his "Memoirs" Robert-Houdin eulogizes the vari- 
ous automata which he claims to have invented. The 
picturesque fashion in which he describes the tre- 
mendous effort put forth ere success crowned his la- , 
bors would render his arguments most convincing — if 
stem historical facts did not contradict his every statement. 
One of the most extraordinary mechanical figures 
which he exploits as his invention was the writing and 
drawing figure, which he exhibited at the Quinquennial 
Exhibition in 1844, but never used in his public perform- 
ances, though he asserts that he planned to exhibit it 
between performances at his own theatre. This au- 
tomaton, he says, laid the foundation of his financial 
success and opened the way to realizing his dream of 
appearing as a magician. 

On page 196 of his "Memoirs," American edition, he 
starts his romantic description of its conception and 
manufacture. According to this he had just planned what 
promised to be the most brilliant of his mechanical in- 
ventions when financial difficulties intervened. He was 
obliged to raise two thousand francs to meet a pressing 

debt. He applied to the ever-convenient Monsieur G , 

who had bought automata from him before. He described 
.the writing and drawing figure minutely to his patron, 



who immediately agreed to advance two thousand five 
hundred francs, and if the figure was completed in eight- 
een months, two thousand five hundred francs more were 
to be paid iox it, making five thousand francs in all. If 
the figure was never completed, then Monsieur G was 

Writing and drawing figure claimed by Robert-Houdin as his invention. 
From Manning's Robert-Houdin brochure. 

to reimburse himself for the amount advanced by select- 
ing automatic toys from Robert-Houdin's regular stock. 

After liquidating his debt, Robert-Houdin retired to 
Belleville, a suburb of Paris, where for eighteen months 
he worked upon the figure, seeing his family only twice a 
week, and living in the most frugal fashion. 

He employed a wood-carver to make the head, but the 
result was so unsatisfactory that in the end he was 
obliged, not only to make all the complicated machinery 
which operated the figure, but to carve the head itself, 



which, he adds, in some miraculous fashion, resembled 
himself. This resemblance, however, cannot be traced 
in existing cuts of the figure. 

The chapter devoted to this particular automaton is 
so diverting that I quote hterally from its pages, thus 
giving my readers an opportunity to take the true measure 
of the writer and the literary style of his "Memoirs." 
Here is his description of his moment of triumph: 

"I had only to press a spring in order to enjoy the 
long-waited-for result. My heart beat violently, and 
though I was alone I trembled at the mere thought of 
this imposing trial. I had just laid the first sheet of 
paper before my writer and asked him this question: 
* Who is the author of your being?' I pressed the spring, 
and the clockwork started — began acting. I dared hardly 
breathe through fear of disturbing the operations. The 
automaton bowed to me, and I could not refrain from 
smiling on it as on my own son. But when I saw the eyes 
fLx an attentive glance on the paper — when the arm, a 
few seconds before numb and lifeless, began to move 
and trace my signature in a firm hand — the tears started 
in my eyes and I fervently thanked Heaven for granting 
me success. And it was not alone the satisfaction I ex- 
perienced as an inventor, but the certainty I had of 
being able to restore some degree of comfort to my 
family, that caused my deep feeling of gratitude. 

"After making my Sosia repeat my signature a thou- 
sand times, I gave it this question: ^What o'clock is it?' 
The automaton, acting in obedience to the clock, wrote, 
*It is two in the morning.' This was a timely warning. 
I profited by it and went straight to bed." 



Robert-Houdin injects a little humor into this chapter, 
for he relates that as Moliere and J. J. Rousseau con- 
sulted their servants, he decided to do likewise; so early 

the next morning he in- 
o/eZr htch^U ^chcene vited his portress and 

stone-mason, to be pres- 

et^ e ^Gcl^ cnt at the first perform- 

/I \ .\ ^^^^ of the figure. The 

c^<J Qy^tlUtCluC J mason's wife chose the 

question, ^^What is the 
Vl^f?f?et?t teVCit emblem of fidelity?" 

/The automaton replied 
^Ut* pQUJ by drawing a pretty lit- 

tle greyhound, lying on 

Specimens of penmanship executed by i . rpt . 

the Droz writuig automaton in 1796 and <^ CUSHlOn. 1 ne StOne- 

lZ/T'i:'Urof%>^''Z "^^son wished to see the 

Arehffiology, Canton of Neuchatel, Switz- works, SavinSf: "I Undcr- 
erland. i i i r 

Stand about that sort of 
thing, for I have always greased the vane on the church 
steeple, and have even taken it down twice." 

When the work was completed, according to page 
2o8 of the American edition of his ^'Memoirs," he 
returned to Paris, collected the remaining two thousand 

five hundred francs due him from Monsieur G > 

to whom he delivered the figure, and two thousand 
francs more on an automatic nightingale made for a 
rich merchant of St. Petersburg. Incidentally he men- 
tions that during his absence his business had pros- 
pered, but he fails to state who managed it for him, 
and here is where I believe credit should be given Opre, 



the Dutch inventor, who was unquestionably Robert- 
Houdin's assistant for years. 

In 1844 he claims to have borrowed the writing and 

drawing figure from the obliging Monsieur G to 

exhibit it at the Quinquennial Exposition, where it 
attracted the attention of Louis Philippe and his court, 
thus insuring its exhibitor the silver medal. 

At this point Robert-Houdin deliberately drops the 
writing and drawing figure, leaving his readers to believe 

that it was returned to its rightful owner, Monsieur G , 

but, unfortunately for his claims, another historian steps 
in here to cast reflections on Monsieur G 's owner- 
ship of the figure. This writer is the world's greatest 
showman, the late P. T. Bamum, who purchased the 
figure at this same exposition of 1844, paying for it a 
goodly sum, and this incident is one of the significant 
omissions of the Robert-Houdin "Memoirs." Either 
Robert-Houdin sold the figure to Mr. Bamum for Mon- 
sieur G , or such a person as Monsieur G never 

existed, for in his own book Mr. Bamum writes: 

*'When I was abroad in 1844 I went to Paris expressly 
to attend the * Quinquennial Exposition' — an exhibition 
then held every five years. I met and became well ac- 
quainted with a celebrated conjurer, as he called himself, 
Robert-Houdin, but who was not only a prestidigitateur 
and legerdemain performer, but a mechanic of absolute 
genius. I bought at the exposition the best automaton he 
exhibited and for which he obtained a gold medal. I 
paid a round price for this most ingenious little figure, 
which was an automaton writer and artist. It sat on a 
small table, pencil in hand; and, if asked, for instance, 



for an emblem of 'fidelity,' it would instantly draw the 
picture of a handsome dog; if love was wanted, a cupid 
was exquisitely pencilled. The automaton would also 
answer many questions in WTiting. I took this curiosity 

The late P. T. Barnum, the world's greatest showman, who bought the 
writing and drawing figure from Robert-Houdin, and wrote at length of the 
French conjurer is his autobiography. Born July 5, 1810. Died April 7, 
1891. From the Harry lloudim Collection. 

to London, where it was exhibited for some time at the 

Royal Adelaide Galler}^, and then I sent it across the 

Atlantic to my American Museum, where it attracted 

great attention from the people and the press. During 

my visit, Houdin was giving evening legerdemain per- 



formances, and by his pressing invitation I frequently 
was present. He took great pains, too, to introduce me 
to other inventors and exhibitors of moving figures, 
which I Hberally purchased, making them prominent 
features in the attractions of the American Museum/' 

Bamum then continued to describe Robert-Houdin's 
greatness and his cleverness in the use of electricity. 
The showman was always a welcome guest at the magi- 
cian's house, and he relates how, at luncheon time. 

The fi^re of Cupid as executed by the Droz drawing figure. From the 
brochure issued by the Society of History and Archajoiogy, Canton of Neu- 
chatel, Switzerland. 

Robert-Houdin would touch a knob and through the 
floor would rise a table, laden with inviting viands. These 
details in the Bamum book make it all the more inex- 
plicable that Robert-Houdin should omit all mention of 
the great showman's name in his "Memoirs." 

Just at this time the amusement-seeking public 
seemed greatly interested in automata, so it was only 
natural that Bamum, great showman that he was, should 
scour Europe for mechanical figures. Soon after he 
purchased the writing and drawing figure claimed by 



Robert-Houdin, he brought to 
invented by Professor Faber 


Argyll Street. Oxford Cirotu, W. 


MacbiM. It i* eat oaly iBtemtiof to tb« ScMutifle m lUiiitratinc the thMn; 
MMMic*. bat to lk« iviblio ia gcnrnl, -nd fiMciall} to Ibt yoang.— to 
w%am it oAn an iocsktutUbl* fund o/ wonder iN ubommdI. 

EXHlBITJUig DAILY- rpm U * ■ 
JUaiBsioD, J8. Keserred Seats, 28. 

,tiU 10 p.m. 

Hanger advertising; the Professor Faber 
talking machine, exhibited by P. T. Bar- 
num during 1873 in his museum de- 
partment. This automaton was the first 
talking figure. From the Harry Houdini 

America a talking figure 
of Vienna, to which he 
refers most entertainingly 
in his address to the pub- 
lic dated 1873: 

"The Museum depart- 
ment contains 100,000 
curiosities, including Pro- 
fessor Faber's wonderful 
talking machine, costing 
me $20,000 for its use 
for six months; also the 
National Portrait Gallery 
of one hundred life-size 
paintings, including all 
the Presidents of the 
United States, etc. ; John 
Rogers' groups of historic 
statuary; almost an end- 
less variety of curiosities, 
including numberless au- 
tomaton musicians,mech- 
anicians, and moving 
scenes, etc., etc., made in 
Paris and Geneva." 

It can be imagined how 
wonderful this talking 
machine must have been 

when Barnum gave it special emphasis, selecting it from 
the hundreds of curios he had on exhibition. As this 
talking machine is probably forgotten. I will reproduce 



the bill used at the time of its appearance in London, 

When Bamum was in London in 1844, with Gen. Tom 
Thumb, who was then performing at the Egyptian Hall, 
he first saw the automatic talking machine and engaged 
it to strengthen his show. Thirty years later Prof. 
Faber's nephew was the lecturer who explained to the 
American public the automaton's mechanism and also 
the performer who manipulated the machine. 

Bamum always speaks of the talking automaton as 
being a life-size figure, but the pictures used for adver- 
tising purposes show that it was only a head. 

The fate of both the talking automaton and the writing 
and drawing figure is shrouded in mystery. If they were 
in the Bamum Museum when the latter was swept by 
fire in 1865, they were destroyed. If they had been taken 
back to Europe, they may now be lying in some cellar or 
loft, moth-eaten and dust-covered, ignominious end for 
such ingenious brain-work and handicraft. 

So much for the claims of Robert-Houdin. Now to 
disprove them. 

The earliest record of a writing figure I have found is 
in the "Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, and Mines," 
compiled by Andrew Ure, M.D., and published in New 
York in 1842 by Le Roy Sunderland, 126 Fulton Street. 
On page 83, under the heading of "Automaton," is this 

"Frederick Von Knauss completed a writing machine 
at Vienna in the year 1760. It is now in the model cabinet 
of the Polytechnic Institute, and consists of a globe two 
feet in diameter, containing the mechanism, upon which 



sits a figure seven inches high and writes, upon a sheet 
of paper fixed to a frame, whatever has been placed 
beforehand upon a regulating cylinder. At the end of 

each line it raises and 
moves its hand sideways, 
in order to begin a new 

This does not answer the 
description of the figure 
which Robert-Houdin 
claims, but it is inter- 
esting as showing that 
mechanical genius ran 
along such lines almost 
a hundred years before 
Robert-Houdin claims to 
have invented the famous 

The writing and draw- 
ing figure claimed by Rob- 
ert-Houdin as his original 
invention can be traced 
back directly to the shop 
door of Switzerland's most 
noted inventor, Pierre 
Jacquet-Droz, who with 
his son, Henri-Louis, laid 
the foundation of the 
famous Swiss watch- and music-box industry. 

In the latter part of the eighteenth century, probably 
about 1770, the Jacquet-Drozes turned out a drawing, 



Portrait and autograph of Pierre 
Jacquet-Droz. Born 1721, died 1790. 
From the brochure issued by the 
Society of History and Archaeology, 
Canton of NeuchStel, Switzerland. 


figure which also inscribed a few set phrases or titles of 
the drawings. In mechanism, appearance, and results 
it tallies almost exactly with the automaton claimed by 
Robert-Houdin as originating in his brain. The Jacquet- 
Droz figure showed a child clad in quaint, flowing gar- 
ments, seated at a desk. The Robert-Houdin figure 
was modernized, and showed a court youth in knee 
breeches and powdered peruque, seated at a desk. The 
Jacquet-Droz figure drew a dog, a cupid, and the heads 
of reigning monarchs. The Robert-Houdin figure, made 
'Seventy-five years later, by some inexplicable coincidence 
drew a dog as the symbol of fidelity, a cupid as the em- 
blem of love, and the heads of reigning monarchs. 

The history of the Jacquet-Drozes is written in the 
annals of Switzerland as well as the equally reputable 
annals of scientific inventions, and cannot be refuted. 

Pierre Jacquet-Droz was born July 28th, 1721, in a 
small village, La-Chaux-de-Fonds, near NeuchS,tel, Switz- 
erland. According to some authorities, his father was 
a clock-maker, but the brochure issued by ^'Societe 
d'Histoire et d'Arch^ologie '' of the city of Neuchatel, which 
has recently acquired many of the Jacquet-Droz auto- 
mata, states that he was the son of a farmer and was sent 
to a theological seminary at Basle. Here the youth's 
natural talent for mechanics overbalanced his interest 
in "isms" and "ologies," and he spent every spare 
moment at work with his tools. On his return to his 
native town he turned his attention seriously to clock- 
and watch-making, constructing a marvellous clock with 
two peculiar hands which, in passing each other, touched 
the dial and rewound the clock. 



At this time his work attracted the attention of Lord 
Keith, Governor of Neuchatel, then a province of Prussia, 
who induced the young inventor to visit the court of 
Ferdinand VI. of Spain, providing the necessary intro- 
ductions. Pierre Jacquet- 
Droz remained for some time 
in Madrid and made a clock 
of most complicated pattern. 
This was a perpetual calen- 
dar. For hands, he utilized 
artificial sunbeams, shooting 
out from the sun's face which 
formed the dial, to denote 
the hours, days, etc. With 
the money received from the 
Spanish monarch he returned 
to Switzerland to find that his 
son, Henri-Louis, had inher- 
ited his remarkable inventive 
gifts. He sent his boy to 
Nancy to study music, draw- 
ing, mechanics, and physics. During his son's absence 
in all probability he produced the first of the marvellous 
automata which made the Jacquet-Drozes famous the 
modern world over, namely, the writing figure. 

With the return of Henri-Louis Jacquet-Droz from 
college commenced what may be termed the golden age 
of mechanics in Switzerland. Associated with father 
and son were the former's pupils or apprentices, Jean- 
Fr6d6ric Leschot, Jean-David Maillardet, and Jean Pierre 
Droz, a blood relation who afterward became director of 


Henri-Louis Jacquet-Droz, son 
of Pierre Jacquet-Droz, and the 
superior of his father as a mecha- 
nician. Bom Oct 13th, 1752, died 
November 15th, 1791. From the 
Jaquet-Droz brochure, issued by 
the Neuchatel Society of History 
and Archaeology. 


the mint at Paris and a mechanician of rare talent. Jean 
Pierre Droz is credited with having invented a machine 
for cutting, stamping, and embossing medals on the face 
and on the edges at one insertion. 

The output of this shop and its staff of gifted workers 
included the first Swiss music 
box, the singing birds which 
sprang from watches and jewel 
caskets, the drawing figure 
which was an improvement on 
the writing figure, the spinet 
player, and the grotto with 
its many automatic animals of 
diminutive size but exquis- 
ite workmanship. Years were 
spent in perfecting the various 
automata, and none of them 
have been equalled or even 
approached by later mechanicians and inventors. 

Henri-Louis Jacquet-Droz was conceded to be the supe- 
rior of his father, Pierre Jacquet-Droz. In a German en- 
cyclopaedia which I found at the King's Library, Munich, 
it is stated that when Vaucanson, celebrated as the in- 
ventor of "The Flute Player," "The Mechanical Duck," 
"The Talking Machine," etc., saw the work of the 
younger Droz, he cried loudly, "Why, that boy com- 
mences where I left off!" 

According to the brochure issued by the Society 
of History and Archaeology, Canton of Neuchatel, 
and an article contributed by Dr. Alfred Gradenwits 
to The Scientific American of June 22d, 1907, the 


Jean-Frederic Leschot. 
Bom 1747, died 1824. Por- 
trait published by Societe des 
Arts de Greneve. Presented to 
the author by Mons. Blind 
(Magicus) of Geneva. 


writing and drawing figures are made and operated 
as follows: 

"The writer represented a child of about four years 
of age, sitting at his little table, patiently waiting writh 

the pen in his hand 
until the clockwork 
is started. He then 
sets to work and, 
after looking at the 
sheet of paper before 
him, lifts his hand 
and moves it toward 
the ink-stand, in 
which he dips the 
pen. The little fel- 
low then throws oflF 
an excess of ink and 
slowly and cahnly, 
like an industrious 
child, begins writing 
on the paper the 
prescribed sentence. 
His handwriting is 
careful, conscien- 
tiously distinguishing 
between hair strokes 
and ground strokes, 
always observing the proper intervals between letters 
and words and generally showing the sober and de- 
termined character of the handwriting usual at the 
time in the country of Neuchatel. In order, for in- 


The Jacquet-Droz writing automaton. 
From the brochure issued by the Society of 
History and Archaeology, Canton of Neu- 
chatel, Switzerland. 


stance, to write a T, the writer begins tracing the 
letter at the top, and after slightly lifting his hand half- 
way, swiftly traces the transversal dash, and continues 
writmg the original ground stroke. 

"How complicated a mechanism is required for insur- 
ing these eflFects will be inferred from the illustration, in 
which the automaton is shown with its back opened. 
In the first place a vertical disk will be noticed having 
at its circimiference as many notches as there are letters 
and signs. Behind this will be seen whole columns of 
cam-wheels, each of a special shape, placed one above 
another, and all together forming a sort of spinal column 
for the automaton. 

"Whenever the little writer is to write a given letter, 
a pawl is introduced into the corresponding notch of the 
disk, thus lifting the wheel column and transmitting to the 
hand, by the aid of a complicated lever system and Cardan 
joints arranged in the elbow, the requisite movements for 
tracing the letter in question. The mechanism comprises 
five centres of motion connected together by chains. 

"In the ^Draftsman,' the mechanism is likewise ar- 
ranged in the body itself, as in the case of the * Writer.' 
The broad chest thus entailed also required a large head, 
which accounts for the somewhat bulky appearance of 
the two automatons. With the paper in position and a 
pencil in hand, the 'Draftsman' at first traces a few 
dashes and then swiftly marks the shadows, and a dog 
appears on the paper. The little artist knowingly ex- 
amines his work, and after blowing away the dust and 
putting in a few last touches, stops a moment and then 
quickly signs, 'Mon Toutou ' (My pet dog). The motions 
7 [97] 


View of the mechanism which operates the Jacquet-Droz writing automaton. 
From the brochure issued by the Society of Histoiy and Archaeology, Canton of 
Neuchfitel, Switzerland. 



of the automaton are quite natural, and the outlines of 
his drawings extremely sharp. The automaton when 
desired willingly draws certain crowned heads now be- 
longing to history; for example, a portrait of Louis XV., 
of Louis XVI., and of Marie Antoinette." 

The automata made by the Jacquet-Drozes and their 
confreres were exhibited in all the large cities of Great 

i^cfit r«M«ii< to bi fecA Th» Dav, 


^■•^ - -^ ' y^^ o - , 

igrit I HUHbtr pblri Airtii A in on Khe HMTl^(^chaTi^ 
ThtTt ^t aUd 4 PtSorii S tintf in whuh a imnd^tta 
» gfttt Nuio^jcT of FigvTtt I the Treat Llofl^m id 4 
W Fj«it( the ajiAcp hi fit, the Djg ti*rk*, ftjij tkt" 

the; CJtectd ^vcrV Ac^omit thiC (in b^ |ivsn erf tbcts, 
SM «nt| f*i- tile Vaml^ buC far tbc Eiaaflcft of ihtlj- 
Jfi^jftflt Opcntiorvt, Tii*ir Utcbanirm f«n>arei fVery . 
Thinf iht( hn ever afiKtied^ iAfomuch ib*t it maj 
III ftria^ faiJ ih<)f vfiJl fpcjlt for thtniftlwt- 

tb« inal* of slewing it wi*i be fram Tv^Tf t« | 
One, (romOnt to Twi>, fft»i Tpfo to Tbre^, *n4 ia < 

Ui. MQpET Daor, tilt Ja*«iuor^ *1J1 lUurdi ' 

' rfb»or q*MU tjfl chat may eiitft mj Ut luii Es.Ki* 
■*t*lter if'c Hmir of Tia. . 

4dmilUiice f i¥« 1 hllicigt. ''^ 

CUppinff from the Loudon Post, 1776, advertising the writing and drawing 
&;iii«9p ezoibited by their inventor, Mr. Jacquet-Droz. From the Harry 
BM>iidim Collection. 

Britain and Continental Europe. According to the pro- 
grammes and newspaper notices in my collection, Henri- 
Louis Jacquet-Droz acted as their first exhibitor. As 
proof I am reproducing a Droz programme from the 
London Post, dated 1776. 



In support of this advertisement, note what the same 
paper says in what is probably a criticism of current 

"This entertainment consists of three capital mechan- 
ical figures and a pastoral scene, with figures of an inferior 
size. The figure on the left-hand side, a beautiful boy 
as large as life, writes anything that is dictated to him, in 
a very fine hand. The second on the right hand, of the 
same size, draws various landscapes, etc., etc., which he 

Heads of King Geoi^ge and Queen Charlotte, executed in their presence by 
the Jacquet-Droz drawing figure in 1774. From the brochure issued by the 
Society of History and Archaeology. Canton of Neuch&tel, Switzerland. 

finishes in a most accurate and masterly style. The 
third figure is a beautiful young lady who plays several 
elegant airs on the harpsichord, with all the bass accom- 
paniments; her head gracefully moving to the tune, and 
her bosom discovering a delicate respiration. During her 
performance, the pastoral scene in the centre discovers 
a variety of mechanical figures admirably grouped, all 
of which seem endued, as it were, with animal life, to 
the admiration of the spectator. The last curiosity is a 
canary bird in a cage, which whistles two or three airs in 



the most natural manner imaginable. Upon the whole, 
the imited collection strikes us as the most wonderful 
exertion of art which ever'fijbd before so close on the 
heels of nature. The ingeniou$*'&rtist is a young man, 
a native of Switzerland." C--^*'^ 

The inventory of Jacquet-Droz, - J]Cc> dated 1786, 
quotes the "Piano Player" as valued at 4,800" Uvres, the 
*' Drawing Figure" at 7,200 livres, while tfie^-^\Writer" 
had been ceded to him by his father for 4,800 Iiyfes, in 
consideration of certain improvements and modifications 
which Henri-Louis Jacquet-Droz made in the originkr 
invention. This shows that while the elder Droz did not 
die until 1790, his son controlled the automata previous 
to this date, for exhibition and other purposes. 

During his later years Henri-Louis Jacquet-Droz was 
induced to take the automata to Spain. His tour was 
imder the direction of an English manager, who, possibly 
for the purpose of securing greater advertisement, an- 
nounced the figures as possessed of supernatural power. 
This brought them under the ban of the Inquisition, and 
Jacquet-Droz was thrown into prison. Eventually he 
managed to secure his freedom, and, breathing free air 
once more, Uke the proverbial Arab, he silently folded 
his tent and stole away, leaving the automata to their 
fate. Henri-Louis^acquet-Droz died in Naples, Italy, in 
1 791, a year after his father's death. 

The English manager, however, tarried in Spain. 

The figures were "tried" and as they proved motionless 

the case was dropped. The Englishman then claimed the 

automata as his property and sold them to a French 

nobleman. Their owner did not know how to operate 











*3 < 2 -.a O 



«j « o '^ 
M V o «« *^ • 

O •- o tS- ^^ ' 

c .« X ^ — ^ 

-Is S3 3 


S S 

*« H 

O e^jS 

OS £ » 

4-» OS - ■ 

S i «s 







111 m 

^1-1 i 


^ 5 e.S *' 

;-«^« ^oiT) Mil .. 

'^ 1 I" J "• 

•2 > 

111 !|| ^ 


.g<§8|"8H I 
U J .25 If * ^ 


§ I 

00 2 






Philipsthal and Maillardet*s 

Roi/al Museum, 


' ym Opw ftr PdMic iBycliua. 
Ob FRIDAY tU 9^. .f MARCH • 

■im ■■toM «'tmtU» m rat* flaci. 

them, so their great value was never realized by his 
family. After his death, during a voyage to America, 

they lay neglected in the 
castle of Mattignon,. near 
Bayonne. After changing 
hands many times, about 
1803 they passed into the 
hands of an inventor named 
Martin, and were controlled 
by his descendants for nearly 
a hundred years. One of his 
family, Henri Martin, of 
Dresden, Germany, exhibit- 
ed them in many large cities, 
and advertised them for sale 
at 15,000 marks in the 
Muenchener Blaetter of May 
13th, 1883. After Martin's 
death, his widow succeeded 
in disposing of them to Herr 
Marfels, of Berlin, who had 
them repaired with such 
good results that in the fall 
of 1906 he sold them for 
75,000 francs, or about 


Musical Automaton, 


Droning and IVriting- Master ; 

An Old Necromancer, 

W>*ffM>\l.pal r..m. a 



S£r M rsjKis. 


KAonnaLT enamclleo. 


11 li iihKiW !■!■ >»— ii*<%— —Mtfc I II III i^««»*i>Mi t ^1 l»t»«fc«l 

ntXitimiojki f »t<c^ji^giii^wiiii».i^ 

$15,000, to the Historical 
Society of Neuch^tel. In 
April, 1907, the writing fig- 
ure, the drawing figure, and 
the spinet player were on 
exhibition in Le Locle, Chaux-de-Fonds, and Neuchdtel. 


Poster used, March 22nd, 1811, 
by de Philipsthal and Maillardet dur- 
ing their partnership, on which the 
writing and drawing figure is fea- 
tiued. From the Harry Houdini 


So far we have traced only the original writing and 
drawing figure. This has been done purely to show 
that even if Robert-Houdin had been capable of building 
such an automaton, he would not have been its real in- 
ventor, but would merely have copied the marvellous 
work of the Jacquet-Drozes. Now to trace the figure 
which in 1844 he claimed as his invention. 

With the fame of the Neuchatel shop spreading and 
the demand for Swiss watches increasing, Maillardet and 
Jean Pierre Droz, apprentices or perhaps partners of 
Pierre Jacquet-Droz and Henri-Louis Jacquet-Droz, 
removed to London and there set up a watch factory. 
About this time Maillardet invented a combination 
writing and drawing figure which was pronounced by 
experts of the day slightly inferior to the work of the two 
Jacquet-Drozes. However, it must have been worthy 
of exhibition, for it appeared at intervals for the next 
fifty years in the amusement world, particularly in Lon- 
don. At first Maillardet was not its exhibitor nor was his 
name ever mentioned on the programmes and newspaper 
notices, but later his name appeared as part owner and ex- 
hibitor. As the Swiss watches had created a veritable sen- 
sation and were snatched up as fast as produced, it is quite 
likely that he had no time to play the role of showman. 

The figure first appeared in London in 1796, when the 
London Telegraph of January 2nd carried the adver- 
tisement reproduced on the next page. 

Haddock had no particular standing in the world of 
magic, and it is more than likely that he rented the auto- 
mata which he exhibited, or merely acted as showman 
for the real inventors. 


r*t*ii ^"^^ 

J < M i , (M , d ■ 

An . 

«'|IL I' 

f ACil-.i. ... 

Haddock advertisement in the London Telegraph, January, 1796, in which 
he features the writing automaton as an androide. FVom the Hany Houdini 



In quite a few works on automata, notably Sir David 
Brewster's "Letters on Natural Magic," CoUinson is 
quoted as having interviewed Maillardet as the inventor 
of the combination writing and drawing figure. The 
Franklin Journal of June, 1827, pubhshed in Philadel- 
phia, Pa., credits this figure to Maillardet and gives the 
following description: "It was the figure of a boy kneeling 
on one knee, holding a pencil in his hand, with which he 
executed not only writing but drawings equal to those of 

I i H H A ( S f- -. C iih^t] i>.--ii r^et^ j^ rJ^a*^di p |* rJ f ^:-^nt t^trf ' 

^ ' ■•■:i"ii-; 'i'- : ^'=-' ■ ' M.*! ct?n)f:a.i of a (Srci*t i?uji^ ixt^i. 

^ i^i.iccf ..r s'L!.:T:/iir^ ':!i..i. the Jii|fh»i;ii,« nj.ifM at .ipji/uiji'*- 
iiiar^. Y-it luf^h^r )jD:rti^u|.ii9 ire hiimJ 1)1 U; The ^^ii: 

IT' -!T,-."-r=. .iiii^ r ■ ^..viuj 1& ajicolijiljiejitj FuDUe < 
[Lj-;, . . ■.,.;. .., : . f.( t.+iiptriiin.Jiurc. 

'V"^ -h/ar^ ^ mi .. 

Clipping from the London Telegraph in March, 1812, provintr the partner- 
ship of ae rhilipstiial and Maillardet in an "Automatical Theatre." The Mr. 
Ix)iiis mentioned in the advertisement as assistant engineer later secured pos- 
session of the writing and drawing figure. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 

the masters. When the figure began to work, an attend- 
ant dipped the pencil in ink, and fixed the paper, when, 
on touching a spring, the figure wrote a line, carefully 
dotting and stroking the letters." 

The Robert-Houdin figure did not kneel, but this 
change could be made by a mechanician of ordinary 

The writing and drawing figure does not reappear on 

amusement programmes in my collection until 1812, when 

it was featured by De Philipsthal, the inventor of ''Phan- 


Mr. IjouWh 



the Ath, 6tl>, VKi TiJ^ 

AM, 1* fifttef ti Ml* ^ tptiW™ ittli Bw* -^It i^f i*r ISM* P*tf>«»r*, rt* 

bcfi Tn^ la labrfa Ih**, 1k«tr !■ AiMki«7> la Ibr mhiH* 5rl>fi:IiiHi i^rrsJj 




/n Us Natural Plumage! 

Vkich hnitaln, to cloMly, the CRIES, ACTIONS, and ATTITUDES of that «Uieljr«ml 
besntifiil Bird, that it is not vnlireqaently (upposrd to be an absohit* living AaimaL 
properly trained to act ai an Aammag Deception. 

Akkaafli aw Oncripliaai cm p i«f«i l i iUaitriM ikera WmMtmi ^tcw m Air, ftt U nmr^f ft lh« 
mMw h hIm af llMii tinfslttti*, iMi af tb« imiiMit < |>o«rrt viik •kM-h lb*M FifalM WMI timL *• 
Mawiaf ciplaiiaitoa n HUailUtl, aaal ihrv art nb'bil«4 la lb* Miawth| auaaar:— 


•I POUtSMSC. lir atftr a fa* BOY. 

* «|.^IT ......d.i.f p. 

«*f]r pl«"a| cii 


Rtprmraiiax lh« tUXI lOXLANE. «Im pbyt vMi ik* fnMcM p ra w iia Kilw* Amw wtmy mm 
fmm^ trrm ik« prasar* af ika ta|<n an4 hat, aa ibt appraprMU kap*. m a b*>^ panaa, wMb «k>Biiiiai 
«r ktr b«i4. tyat, —i ajrcMi, h dinctf4 to tba kajra.— Tka iwnpact —i wall f r ip mi ail fant, apiaakla 
coaniraaaic, aad awy aMaaciad air af Ikia FaaHia Fimrt, kaaa baaa fnmlj aMn^ aaJ tiaajairf bf 
Ik. .«r b«M jarffn aa a k»py mkiaaiiaa titktuutt Drnft mi MackaMM. obi* /nimtmmfkt 
oar Uaa ikc appa t wa c t M rMpimiaa. 



A JD VimU AITIST. Tk« ((ara af a Bop, wba, wiik arary actwa aT raal lift •ill «MraM is pwcKt 
ar Ik* caapaap. (prcuoaaa af Dnwik( aad Wriiiag, aapariar la ika baal apaciaau U ika km aailft*: tt 

Cnak M«ikalafT. «k*a •paaliiaf af ifitraa faoaad aat af aanltd da/. «kwfc, M«.k«il by Pr 
itartadialakr*; aa4, rBtfaardtaary u ika (ikia appMn, il i* cmalM. rf aat ■ rpwi 1 1, kj ika 
■avkaitfiai af ikia kaar* ^ 


iri^^^ brif ta Jf»«<*U^ Ibr h<lrA EtwA^Mw. fir b> aTika fakM r^a n^T'il4«f iW 4a* 

ftf Hb^ TBiair rvrLiaf ™fw^ la iiiir uuiii | fi flri-dK*! la^. vlpn' Tirr -pi i M ^ r al fa-^ 

a»J ba^V*. -tkIJ pa bifiail ihi iMaa.itiaK ^n^ ^ 11 af It^ MH^ iiu Aii lWfm , -a-b* l+ia^Fn Ik ^av- 
kiNH 4^H ifil ftwt'ai iH l|W|. ai^l. Ibr ^^inw p^^u« df -la OrK^- *i|htsl 1^4 uj b^ ib^ 

I^H>r, >[^^ HBT^Hl^^i ttf l ilt 1 1 1 ^ ttatv, la wWith b* tfrafX It**- vill SilnJl 
>J<i ™ TM IM^IIt n *f <hj a} lbs- .'baliH^m, visa jmlB , k. a^ f»Hrl *itk 

Irtaaa <iitmt<.\, Mi 

!» taiiTiLj .--Tbi nirb^p i > Lt^ bf'it*, »kiF* It •**», "fit (fi d* 


** ^ ^T ^ ^^ dT Aa p_a ^ H ' 1 . II B^ katti, ^^^^{^l^dij'la ^^tfMU^. mt 


mJiSt^.^'^'^^ ''*• •'^ >■»< " ■«. « if li<k n ai l ky *• Maw. ia <alMh diflkMI AllAL 
Sram lad SlUIItt aT «M aaa •ill aMtr Mi irr^vrWH ■ ^a»-pM* aTika ! 


A Louis programme of April 8rd, 1815, in which the writinjg and drawii 
figure is advertised as a juvenile artist. It also features a b£rd of paradi 
automaton which Robert-Houdin claimed to have invented thirty years late 
From the Harry Houdini Collection. 



tasmagoria." The nature of the inventions grouped under 
this title can t)est be judged from the reproduction of a 
De Phihpsthal programme, dated 1803-04, and reproduced 
in the course of this chapter. All evidence goes to prove, 
however, that De Philipsthal did not control the writing 
and drawing figure exclusively, but that it was the joint 
property of himself and his partner, ^Maillardet. One 
of their joint programmes is also reproduced. Wherever 
De Philipsthal appears as an independent entertainer, 
the writing and drawing figure is missing from his billing. 
Later the writing and drawing automaton came into 
the possession of a Mr. Louis, who, as it will be seen from 
the biUing, acted as assistant engineer to De Philipsthal 
and MaiUardet. Louis evidently controlled the wonderful 
little automaton in the years 1814-15. 

The last De Phihpsthal programme in my possession is 
dated SummerTheatre, Hull, September isth, i6th, 17th, 
1 8th and 19th, 1828, when he advertises only ^^ rope dancers 
and mechanical peacock," and features ^^ special uniting fire 
and water" and "firework experiments." He must have 
died between that date and April, 1829, for a programme 
dated at the latter time announces a benefit at the Theatre 
Wakefield for the widow and children of De Philipsthal, 
"the late proprietor of the Royal Mechanical and Optical 
Museum." This benefit programme contains no allusion 
to the writing and drawing figure, which goes to prove 
that it had not been his property, or it would have been 
handed down to his estate. 

In May, 1826, an automaton was exhibited at 161 
Strand, a bill regarding which is reproduced. This 
mechanical figure, however, should not be confounded 



Tiwtr«» WakmMi. 

ROYAL taCOAIftCAt 4> omcAt 


MOW CAMtv <* MB TnaBmnrorrat 


or ran latm mm. patuptniAL. 
Oi !»■<■. tfu. r ■ ■ - - 

<M CLOSMmKid^ Mm 



« UMMUTATtMi or nil Ltn iwpnoii o» 

Mount Vesuvius. 


wnr TMM tiUBQM ona rmm utmm tutst. 


Tho Ancient GATElt Southamptoo* 

▼Aaiwio jBrggiBaattaiB<D '▼mi W j5f ifciMWMt» 



• Muea sr tmi ut* 

JEmmerar Alexander^ 

Tt r jnuttfnMmi. wr tkm ama hmta 
* PIN* »«» sr mi 

Suspension Bridge 



The Tragic Scene of Corneliat 
9tan>eltous Tomb Scene 1 1 

S Cm 

eg O 
O cd 


m ruu. um-Ai 



^'— ^-1 — ■— ■—■' ■ •- *"^> "rn 





with the original and 
genuine WTiting and 
drawing figure. It 
seems to have lacked 
legitimacy and, from 
what I can learn from 
newspaper clippings, 
was worked like " Zoe," 
with a concealed con- 
federate, or, like the 
famous "Psycho" fea- 
tured by Maskelyne, it 
was worked by com- 
pressed air. This bill 
is interesting solely be- 
cause I believe that 
this fake automaton 
exhibited at i6i Strand 
was the first figure of 
the sort foisted on the 
pubUc after the Baron 
Von Kemplen chess- 
player, which is de- 
scribed in Halle's work 
on magic, published in 

In 1901, while in 
Germany, I saw a nimi- 
ber of these automaton 
artists, all frauds. The 
figure sat in a small 


chair before an easel, ready to draw portraits in short 
order. The figure was shown to the audience, then re- 
placed on the chair, whereupon a man under the platform 

Cte Criumpl of ilteeiaHMw. 

NE>y EXllIBniON 



Old Bond Street .4* tit Burlington Arcades 
Open from Ten o'Clock till Dusk. 

Admittance to $ee the Performance, 1 Shilling. 
Profile Likenesses, U. 6d. io addition. 

The Pmprictara conceive that in Automaticil Figure, iccuntely fe 

ing that which h^s hitherto required a powerful ment •! enertioa, ud • 
correct eye. need* no farther iutioduclion of iu exUaordiuary quality, than 
■B iiiliiBauoo of the fact, that it la 




Wtbout foftlier commenU the Proprieton mcivly add the iuformatioa, that 
IhM Figure rseruie* a Prrtfile Likeneia, iu one minute, from any peraon who 
chooiea lu 1.11. lite Auiomalun will, if reqiiirt-d, take the Piofilea of Buala 
of Public Charactera, which are placed in the Koum, and which will enable, 
peraona, who may doubt the ponibility of ajiy mechanical coatrivaoM takiBC 
an accorale likcncca, to compai« them Vith the originals. 

Imict, Printer, 61, Wall^at. OjiM-8t. 

Handbill advertising the fake automatic artist, exhibited also at 161 Strand, 
London, May 7th, 1826. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 

would thrust his arm through the figure and draw all that 
was required of the automaton. The fake was short-lived, 
even at the yearly fairs, and now has sunk too low for them. 



During this interim, that is between 1821 and 1833, 
the famous little figure seems to have been in the posses- 
sion of one Schmidt, who, according to the programmes 
in my collection, exhibited it regularly. 

In 1833 Schmidt is programmed in London, playing 
at the Surrey Theatre, when the writing and drawing 
figure is one of twenty-four automatic devices. A pro- 
gram, which, judging from its printing, is of a still latei 
date, announces Mr. Schmidt and the famous figure at 
New Gothic Hall, 7 Haymarket, for a short period pre- 
vious to the removal of the exhibit to St. Petersburg. 
The dates of other programmes in my collection can be 
judged only from the style of printing which changed 
at different periods of the art's development. Some of 
these indicate that the writing and drawing figure was 
on exhibition during the early 40's in London at Paul's 
Head Assembly Rooms, Argyle Rooms, Regent Street, 

It is more than likely, according to Robert-Houdin's 
own admission regarding his study of automata and his 
opportunities to repair those left at his shop, that at some 
time the writing and drawing figure was brought to 
Paris to be exhibited, needed repairing, and thus reached 

his shop. Whether it was bought by Monsieur G , 

whose Interest in automata is featured in Robert-Houdin's 
"Memoirs," and brought to Robert-Houdin to repair, or 
whether Robert-Houdin bought it for a song, and repaired 
it to sell to advantage to his wealthy patron, cannot be 
stated, but I am morally certain that Robert-Houdin never 
constructed, in eighteen months, a complicated mech- 
anism on which the Jacquet-Drozes spent six years of 




Baza, Sf.— Fil, U-^GaUerg, ML 
moMimm mxmxmxlFi^m omm mmiM.M.xmm mmom. 

• I^PfefWMtionofthe Bight Worihipftil the Mayor. 

TW WoMity, 0«rtiy. lod IriMhii—fc «f Hall — i in Yidbity «w ■ort w ii i itfaUp 


Mairlcal Theatre* 



AMD wiu. coirriHui to roa a •■obt timb onlt, 


iW««^<n«Ml«y Ifp. JKtAmm^ •< <«• omcr y I Kilh ii jI w S tmt, 
^0«»lt«»Tlt»»T, HPlili. 


The Juvenile .Artist I 

III- i-jl. M ftmH •• IW» WMMf m4 e. w «« U t W «mI|« ntf MHUbMl (TkM niMrt* m« — yllnlil ■•«• af 

■i ■J^T^- "- -" — 


VW M ifcM MM •• (lafMl !•«' OIOAN, • mtiMf cTylMt^M Mn, Tk* Mi><lm< wmImm W Ut CaMtraMW^ ml 
SmU| l*taM«« ky Ito lMr^M<<M?<>M7b pn4mi« k| IM kfiM^^ 

«tai MitrUkf Pw«NWM«n'»M. i* ^r«|. Mlta^ia. u4 (MlaUui. <w/ r««tw*> •Ok* Art > tMptaf 


Vk«* iMMMbMikismw ••»< Ik* tfMlut nlmrt m« «h.|I>i. k) lk« »««■•<■• •uwn k« rOaiu to ow] miMm 
)ii|iiill>ki»l TW MMlrwtiM «t Ikb ■M«wftil itH.MlM| l<»n kM k.l*»f to fvaiH «ll <k« Im-wto M ii k t ri w * t tt frn . 


IMik ■•^taf •■•••«■; kf M* •■• r*>*"t Mttka ik* (Mclnl Mwiw, l« k%'l*| »m t-m t«M u k> * IkUi gtUrly lafimit 
k> W| wn (T HukiMT). to yrWaa* *Mi(:«««<*f k«u* wf«tk -if •.»r*'*'*l •■• •■■ •< lUiknm. 

'wf .nAONiFicBJrr classic vasei 


Jin Ethiopian CaterpUtar. •A Tarantnla Spider. 


1^0 IM* M* Wf in l tirM 0«M, 1..M7 l^iil. Mi «iik fM< rm-U. DXW.XI. uJ MkM pncwm IUm^ u4 !• •*• 
TV fiKMH Mtf •• —t^H »| (to r-ff^f ./OMfwl Own%>n, M • 




VMlUtftflfm SI* Mrrr.1'T>*«HBIM •••;«•) Ik* Ua* kf u/ y<rwu «>Wk,-lM aill tlio 4>ri;k*f •ritilf/— k* ■(■ 

The' Enchanted Dutch Coffee-House, 

'••««MIMU*B«MiH>** IkaTnnlbnTtifttt lk*kd< Ik* «aw •f.M-tk* Ht.Ki* >ltoi«t u4 f*!.**. kla ntk «f 


l»MMr'*fif««lM|4Mflfl^M«Mk>HM*<*«lk.4,mbM«rur*.«^r. ik. cealMy «■» ■■f*n«rliM; (kwf* 
•kCliiiM*! >— >■■ Ik* ftk «■« i»'<fM« tkww." tm»iltm»uitUlfH%tHur.%mi;\\lmmtiiHilfnt» 

The Bottle of Sobriety and Inebriety, 

ftOTtaflk* ImMH;*!*.. •IB*MMm.>kM .»>••> liv'>n .t*k* rr*<»*4 k| •••. 

rjr* at^aiOAi. tca caodtb, 

AlU<rwOnliiwi>iH«|»«"' ' im'^V'*'* ^2!/ *'*'"*• '*'^' ** *' '* *** '^'**^- '** " 'r^'M >ki (ikw tt ith«t4 

AN extraordinary'glassIpillar, 

.V» Miflbk MtllkHit, («te wilt 4wrAaiy« • Csmm loitAmt th» tm 0/ Ounpomdirl 

Ad CBtfltttiniiq; Experimeot with Two Electrical Vaaet; 

1W MlliMI^ r«>w <l iMrithr .Ml ife* VtgMkl. ktafd.*. pradMl^ k Crar •( MM la fMWlkM*. Mm 


lBBrtMk«>MkM>a|«M«tail#*«(lk**a«MM . 1kM4M Cl*.4 ml ««t«M m« uk* lU iMUm «mdf ikM* Hi 
»MO t*H« «> JMWiM tn »fc»t n « < H k«lt «— » .fMH.k*llk>k*M.*«l*i*gMM.4>«>llk><*M«M*rlk«,»fM* 

> n » n i i ii T k— Hill n wt**nknr»* »*» « «■ 

>rogramiiie used by Mr. Schmidt in 1827, when he had possession of the 
writing and drawing figure* From the Harry Houdini Collection. 



their inventive genius and eflforts. ^Modern mechanicians 
agree that such a performance would have been a physical 
impossibility, even had Robcrt-Houdin l^een the expert 
mechanician he pictured himself. 
To sum up the evidence: The writing and drawing 

Bplendid ond UnrhfaUed HithMiUm! 

(fm*9kmrmM.fimit m »tm m mmit»»t. 9 i t ii il ) 

ii m i>o o ooiiiiiii 

Tke NobUitj and Public are rMpeedaUy infomed. duU 





Ah» m MotM of a MAN OF WAX, </ Nm0ljf'Fom' Omu. 
y\ Of tlw a<wt cKquMiU Wakxamin, ttd O i MW Batta—dl 
TV VnOLk trnmin ^ MM IfMtmnif^ urf »— M&gPMWftltm ayMM te «b l li li i | l l iir 


Of iki« traly voMnM ua M*tMiH Ai 
' - -^" ■ PalrgMft. ■■ P«w» i»wnw;M<wMniioxiiiii i iM»).i> ii iiiiii«ftt»c>Mit.<i<>itti. 

int. uJ trrrtviMt nalai •Te^rmBoas <« mt nOw M M t^iMt •( Ike UfkMt tatamlWi •«rinrll«> 

TlM Hosloal Lady ! 

«k<>|»rft«M,ifMui>h-cntFii>(ttOIICAK.»rari*t)*f»i<«>I^AIn. IV h« •■•!<»« >«***M*>erkOTCMMniM«t 
■<<i)o>rWa>*UMi>rtWKiM.anarhillaaMari*|k«AMnnl Sk*k*«t|>M«Aril) UU«>it4>Mic«,k*rknMkwn>, 
»irMl*nlliia«**c«4fc]rllMlM|iii •>4ln«nM*«t*rn<<Mt4kjlktkrilliHtla<Kh«(kct(i«cn,«Uklk**a(M. 



irkM Maitakt* FwtaaMm ncil* IW |n*ln< ■•hral mi4 MifhI. bi IW >Mari«<M Mmn kt ivtant I* r«m 
VWrtt—ytif m ilcltiM' TW ««MlrMliM*rai« «ea4i«(W wtf-«lii« f-|«trek«MUrt( pnM*Ulktin>ral» 
q«luiiM<l* Eatav*' 

tVta nlnar4iun Fifirc. akn k ■o»« nlintjr kj it« owm r«««a, tai «»rj *««*«»•, ntiln Ik* r" *1 "tltl** , « 
•uTiac tm k^ WM. kj Ikr M«( i*Ull.|nl sr^ kuinl ArtM*. «a k* • lkM| vttitl} imr*mMt. kj un nrt (faift. 

Abo. • STBCRTAN MOUSK • wt «<<k IV«ri«.— Aa ETmOPEArt C.rTEICPnXAR ■ «t nMj •». 


N wladio.i NoM.-Ai> EGYPTIAN LIZARD! ofM^auite mriimtadtip. in 6m C«)d. Ac 

THEW^HOtE EXHIBITING J»; dkt« mki lauUbon of ANIMATED NATURE, ike mm larrr*. 

lat Pe<«n oT MECHANICAL A 

«in ksn lk« (nlilMlMC of iavwHai Um n 

C^ti/f«a finn >>{/ ri«r. «wl>V«i Siwa till Tn im rW Emmmf. UUImmttf 

«r Ma StaaikT. Um ii»r««— ' Mictmuc. t» S^ wW i a ti tk« lli«ki— cy. mjum Maka 
UtvCU aad C*. r>i«WtN N*.n> Nt«M»«mt C*ikr4-<lmk 

Poster used by IMr. Schmidt in advertising the writing and drawing figure 
in London just Wfore liis departure for St. Petersburg, Russia. From the 
Harry Houdjni Collection. 

figure as turned out by the Jacquet-Drozes was known 
all over Europe. It is not possible that a man so well 
read and posted in magic and automata as Robert-Houdin 



did not know of its existence and mechanism. And if 
Robert-Houdin had invented the same mechanism it is 
hardly possible that his design would have run in pre- 
cisely the same channel as that of Jacquet-Droz and 
Maillardet, in having the figure draw the dog, the cupid, 
and the heads of monarchs. 

In those days humble mechanicians, however well they 
were known in their own trade, were not exploited by 
the public press. Nor did they employ clever journalists 
to write memoirs lauding their achievements. And so 
it happened that for years the names of Jacquet-Droz 
and Maillardet were unsung; their brainwork and handi- 
craft were claimed by Robert-Houdin, who had mastered 
the art of self-exploitation. To-day, after a century and 
a half of neglect, the laurel wreath has been lifted from 
the brow of Robert-Houdin, where it never should have 
been placed, and has been laid on the graves of the real 
inventors of the writing and drawing figure, Pierre 
Jacquet-Droz and Henri-Louis Jacquet-Droz and Jean- 
David Maillardet. 




CONCERNING this trick, which Robert-Houdin 
claims as his invention, he writes on page 79 of 
his "Memoirs," American edition: "The first 
was a small pastry cook, issuing from his shop . 
door at the word of command, and bringing, according 
to the spectator's request, patties and refreshments of 
every description. At the side of the shop, assistant 
pastry cooks might be seen rolling paste and putting it 
in the oven." 

By means of handbills, programmes, and newspaper 
notices of magical and mechanical performances, this 
trick in various guises can be traced back as far as 1796. 
Nine reputable magicians offered it as part of their reper- 
toire, and at times two men presented it simultaneously, 
showing that more than one such automaton existed. 
The dates of the most notable programmes or handbills 
selected from my collection are as follows: 
• I, Haddock, 1797. 2, Garnerin, 1815. 3, Gyngell, 
1816 and 1823. 4, Bologna, 1820. 5, Henry, 1822. 6, 
Schmidt, 1827. 7, Rovere, 1828. 8, Charles, 1829. 9, 
Phillippe, 1841. 

In 1827 Schmidt and Gyngell joined forces^ yet both 
before and after this date each performer had the wonder- 
ful little piece of mechanism on his programme. In 1841, 



four years before Robert-Houdin appeared as a public 
performer, Phillippe created a sensation in Paris, pre- 
senting among other automata "Le Confiseur Galant." 
In 1845, when Robert-Houdin included "The Pastry 
Cook of the Palais RoyaP' in his initial programme at his 
own theatre in Paris, Phillippe was presenting precisely 
the same trick at the St. James Theatre, London. 

Of this goodly company, however, Rovere and Phillippe 
deserve more than passing notice, as both were the con- 
temporaries of Robert-Houdin, and Rovere was his 
personal friend. Both also appear in Robert-Houdin's 

The trick appears first, not as a confectioner's shop 
with small figures at work, but as a fruitery, then again 
as a Dutch CofFee-House and a Russian Inn, from which 
ten sorts of liquor are served. Finally, in 1823, it is feat- 
ured under the name that later made it famous, the 
Confectioner's Shop. 

Haddock, the Englishman who had the writing and 
drawing figure in his possession for some time, featured 
the fruitery on his programmes dated 1796. One of his 
advertisements from the London Telegraph is reproduced 
on page 106, in connection with the history of the writing 
and drawing figure, but for convenience I am quoting 
here Haddock's own description of the fruitery trick, 
which was even more complicated than the famous Pastry 
Cook of the Palais Royal: 

"A model of the neat rural mansion, and contains the 
following figures: First, the porter, which stands at the 
gate, and on being addressed, rings the bell, when the 
door opens, the fruiteress comes out, and any lady or 



gentleman may call for whatever fruit they please, and 
the figure will return and bring the kind required, which 
may be repeated and the fruit varied as often as the 
company orders: it will likewise receive flowers, or any 

«tf( the Great At$em Ug- R»om, 

Three Tuns TaTern* 

Hit Grand Meehmuealami Amiimaikmi 


iND MSCTtuNliD aX TJl|! I.OHU CIlAMSEnL&jar, 

4 rrrn'^d intk ik< ■ 

fiAr rii^rliiM Awn ibWI iJ « TltPiLrH^I llf ■rnpim, fc am 

Thti l>rc[^Di FKIDAVp ItiBrrh 10th, Jrt^O, 

I!nechan]sm C lockwork* 

t.-^ C*&imet uf PffMlivr (JmrntlneiiitM. 

■; *Vwih •.!■ U f.^.±.nl b Vurrij pF I>nrTjMirilll 

Wjib CvJk, ^ 

T*— *fc'ch. ."r {■ ■■ ■■' -..-. I -.U^ Ji T.-ro,. -T^ ^Hf^jfT- 

5.— Jl emruM JHeeMmHieat Frmiierer tmd CStn/MrtMcK* &l^» . 
k»t bvKirr* CvMriT. wlb« will prodncv at CwbmkI. nc^ VariM/ aTFrail A SvarilMlr 


' la«bicblbefcll«via(S<jMMwillWfaiiMaM^ . 

l^-hi. MACJCIAN'. CAVE, »W«hi .i.»«nj TricU It M i i i— if |i fc» m wiff *!» IW. 
t-JUiFREiM£NTAT10N of • FOREST, ia Whicfc wiM b« mmdno«4 A* mm W«a4«tf! 

apM-in of Natural Hislcfy. To ocb «f iIm QiuiiniiM^a th* mU p«f«Mt m4 ImmKIM 

AaniatioN'will b« iriTra. ^ _«w^ 


4^A murli.«diuir«l TICHT-ROPh DANCER, wilfc Um UUMOVBOUS CU>Wir. 
It-a COMICAL KNilFE-GRlKDER. tnt* • Sm«. 

PART Ill^n* WMt u CMcW* w»h m MHma md/mtti»mtm§ Ctmrm ff 

Artificfal or Mechanical Fii'e-Worka! 

Inhrodmeed im an appropriate EtegmU Tempk in a ContaiSoei*, jMwfDqrf^ 

Innumcrubte Cnoiifre*, an luventiou aloiie sufficient to create Attnclion. 
Pom ooM M 7 •04 iMsiiu I1*1HimI 7 o'Clock^-^Vval £Mt« ^ M.Seemd gnU U •• 
TkkeM I* be ks4 «f Nr. TAYLuB, el Ae fief. T. lUaMjrr PnMer. I Mhft 

A Bologna poster of 1820 which features an automatic distiller who draws eight 
different liquors from one cask. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 

small article, carry them in, and produce them again as 
called for. As the fruits are brought out, they will be 
given in charge of a watch-dog, which sits in front of the 
house, and on any person taking or touching them will 



begin to bark, and continue to do so until they are re- 
turned. The next figure belonging to this piece is the 
little chimney-sweeper, which will be seen coming from 
behind the house, will enter the door, appear at the top 
of the chimney, and give the usual cry of ' Sweep ' several 
times, descend the chimney, and come out with his bag 
full of soot." 

In 1820, Haddock's programme, including the fruitery, 
appears with only a few minor changes as the repertoire 
of Bologna, a very clever conjurer who afterward became 
the assistant of Anderson, the Wizard of the North, and 
who made most of the latter's apparatus. On the Bologna 
programme, for a performance to be given at the Great 
Assembly Room, Three Tuns Tavern, the shop trick is 
described thus: "A curious Mechanical Fruiterer and 
Confectioner's Shop, kept by Kitty Comfit, who will 
produce at Command such Variety of Fruit and Sweet- 
meats as may be asked for." 

The marvellous little shop does not appear again on 
programmes of magic until 181 5, when Gamerin features 
it as " The Dutch Coff ee-House . " On the programme used 
by Gamerin in that year for a benefit which he gave for 
the General Hospital at Birmingham, England, it is feat- 
ured as No. 10: "A Dutch Coff ee-House, a very surprising 
mechanical piece, in which there is the figure of a Girl, 
six inches high, which presents, at the Command of the 
Spectators, ten different sorts of Liquors." 

This programme is of such historical value that I repro- 
duce it in full. It will show that this particular mechanical 
trick is by no means the most important feature of Gar- 
nerin's repertoire. In fact his fame is based on his 



ballooning, and he is said to have been the inventor of the 

parachute. The ascen- 
sion of the nocturnal 
balloon, also scheduled 
on this programme, is 
an imitation of the one 
which Gamerin arranged 
in honor of Bonaparte's 
coronation in 1805. On 
that occasion the balloon 
started at Paris and de- 
scended in Rome, a dis- 
tance of five hundred 
miles which was covered 
in twenty-two hours. 

Gamerin was a con- 
temporary of both Pinetti 
and Robertson and was 
with them in Russia 
when Pinetti dissipated 
his fortune in balloon ex- 
periments. In their cor- 
respondence, both Pinetti 
and Robertson spoke 
slightingly of Gamerin, 
but the Frenchman's pro- 
grammes all indicate that 
Ta::roufcH^^w.^ooc;i£— ^c was notonly a success- 

A Gamerin poster of 1815, advertising ^^^ aeronaut, but a ma- 

" ADutch Coffee House,"whose automatic orician who COUld present a 

hostess serves refreshments at command. ^ , , \ 

From the Harry Houdini Collection. diverting entertainment. 


For the Benefit of the 

General Hospital 

Thin pre»ent TUESDAY, October 10. 1815. 



Ari and Nature. 





■I I ncBt wna vwva, ww— ' i »-• 

Ascension of a Nocturnal Balloon, 

Ur>-««^y.-..«r_»': ^^T"^„'^^»iL•^J• ^,f~3^-j-2j- 



•^--Ti«"column"5J? MloNEnCAlToLAaiL 

9..— AH BXUiaiTIOM ( 



In 1816 the elder Gyngell featured the trick on his 
programmes as "The 

Russian Inn," and in 
1823 he changed it to 
"The Confectioner's 
Shop." These pro- 
grammes are reproduced 
as the most convincing 
evidence against the 
claims of Robert-Houdin. 
The Gyngell family is 
one of the most interest- 
ing in the history of 
magic. The Christian 
name of the founder of 
the family I have never 
been able to ascertain, 
though programmes give 
the initial as G. He was 
celebrated as a Barthol- 
omew Fair conjurer. His 
career started about 
1788, and his contempo- 
raries were Lane, Boaz, 
Ball, Jonas, Breslaw, and 
Flocton. At one time 
Gyngell and Flocton 
worked together, and 
Thomas Frost in his 
book, "The Lives of 
Conjurers," claims that 


Catherine Street, 


Mr. GYNGELL, Sen. 

mtt pt Hfi ttg hifinuatPMictktfittimlmg IMtHwtwwh nmlumlH 
t^itk$ mt itt i mUklk$mtalnplanmA ffla \\i t. waHt W t ^m t d 

This PkvseQt Thursday^ Febnuuy 15di, 1816. 

Oa Wiikk OccMlM Mc C. faMiMia « awi » afc Wt MHmtoMTkMtbfct 
pW.Mi4 toBciii ■ f e mi BM ww tt htm PMna^*. A* a MmIm Mr. O. wM 
hi ii ilM i ii BM i i i M i it Mfmt J wu J Wottkii^im r w A Ml rf lM w . bpwiteMlg 


•■■MhflrcMMracMd. ikMiitoolMdicMlbdMWMdaf OmmhM^IImDU 
w o n i H bMMct a PttXARi which, bf thi PkMW of MtchuiM alM*. wil 
■dM^fi, MdpradMtamriMidauirtcrof Bbk«idWhiii Bdh^ or bMhMMihir. 

IWKmmm of which •{■ 
■CtMd. Thctt, 

ntat»9H of a RumaH f mi, 

•a mmt wUk Ml)r UMortfMi b calM lb*. mAmHm 
Mg«h«wMia TnMkar MrioM CoMMciioa. eoonfariM 
hcwiM toaM. Riw Bout, GhMk*. iUk. ta-ftckel 

.. RiH ■««• CMdiH. MilL an. ft< 

. ihuh kiwBiMhli to iif whkh h Ifca 

■alM, 0.« WiA l> i— lnU UilirMnJigrfhi, 4»«iiirM. hf illl«| 1^ W^M 

hito U Mm m« i tal • mS to ri<w>TMk. t^ aMM •• amy Uto W OOiqOIAIIOM. ii 
ii Ml ITiili m l»li»<— !>■■ M ■>■ Ail mllj ■!■■ 

Wonde rful Pieceg of Mec hanism Ut 

Mr. OniaCM> will «f«aih«r«fcwM«« ,iili M«ifc«.w«icd.fh> n «>hiw l . mt Oaww 


T* r«Mi>l«wi (Mr* hrt •# ihh fMfc f to W Mali tn « «•!• 

«^3bW« ■• Ihmck. aickt Mm iW aCM W Rmmi mSm it wiqr. ih«r "V 
. ia-,h..A»i}gS^«-S-.-^^ 


fa whaai iha wnimVUk iMMky afth, whaU tfd m —aw ti iii H TWf taftraaaaa 

•« Mr. O. «ma>«» »Mmr. yaMwO w Haut. hr iiin l hn ih* PiaM* ^|EB.IV 
Uia kj « iwOar j r /ha, Jtnt a i)M^ > yi < a W B r» l «a h« d n^na . 
Jit. OnteEtX win parfm aa ihM awifillit laMtaMt kttmmttmh MllteMr W Taaa 

TA« Harmonized M unca l 

WMckifaillmMykMiqiMMfihaMlaiqMte. "^ 


Bt Hr. GYNGELL, Jan. 

The English EquiUbrist ! ! I 

^f^julutg >f M Mf1»t la a in MMJihh^ —Mr. 

The Microcosm, 

Or £<r Oaiim CJUaaJi. 


A Gyngell poster of 1816, featuring the 
Russian Inn, with service of various 
kinds of liquor. From the Harry 
Houdini Collection. 





at Flocton's death Gyngell received a portion of the 
former's wealth. 

Associated with him in his performances were his 
brother, two sons, and a daughter. The latter was not 
only a clever rope-dancer but a musician of more than 
ordinary ability and she often constituted the entire 

On Gyngell's programme offered in 1827 he proves 
himself a great showman, for he features Herr Schmidt's 
"Mechanical Automatons, Phantasmagoria, a laughing 
sketch entitled Wholesale Blunders, his son on the 
flying wire, during which he would throw a somersault 
through a balloon of real fire, a broadsword dance 
by Miss Louise and Master Gyngell, and Miss Louise's 
performance on the tight rope, clowned by Master 

On a programme used in Hull, October 29th, 1827, a 
lottery was featured as follows: "On which occasion the 
first himdred persons paying for the gallery will be 
entitled by ticket to a chance of a Fat Goose, and the 
same number in the pit to have the same chance for a 
fat turkey. To be drawn for on the stage, in the same 
manner as the State Lottery." 

According to Thomas Frost, Gyngell died in 1833 and 
was buried in the Parish Church, Camberwell. His 
children, however, continued the work so excellently 
planned by their father. 

The programmes herewith reproduced I purchased from 
Henry Evanion, who secured them directly from the last 
of the Gyngell family, as the accompanying letter, now 
a part of my collection, will show: 



Dover, February loth, 1867. 
Mr. Ev anion: 

Dear Sir — Yours of the 5 th inst. I received just as I was 
leaving Folkcstown, and it was forwarded from Guilford. 

I am sorry I have not one of my old bills with me, neither 
do I think any of my family could find one at home. I may 
have some among my old conjuring things, and when I return 
to Guilford I will look them over and send you what I can 
find. I was sorry I was not at home when you were in Guil- 
ford, for I feel much pleasure in meeting a responsible profes- 
sional. I am not certain when I shall return, but most likely 
not for six weeks. I will keep your address; so should you 
change your residence, write to me about that time. 

I was looking over some old papers some time last sum- 
mer, and found a bill of my father's, nearly 60 years ago, when 
his great trick was cutting oflF the cock's head and restoring 
it to life again. And a great wonder it was considered and 
brought crowded rooms. 

I was Master Gyngcll, the wonderful performer on the slack 
wire; and now in my 71st year I am lecturer, pyrotechnist, and 
high-rope walker, for I did that last summer. My life has 
been a simple one of ups and downs. 

lum, dear sir, yours truly, 

J. D. G. Gyngell. 

The signature of this letter, "J. D. G. GyngeU," clears 
up considerable uncertainty regarding the names of the 
two Gyngell sons. At times the clever young tight-rope 
performer has been spoken of as Joseph, and at others 
as Gellini. It is quite probable that the two names were 
really part of one, and the full baptismal name was 
"Joseph D. Gellini.'* It was as Gellini Gyngell that he 
met Henry Evanion at Deal, February 20th, 1862, when 
the latter was performing as a magician at the Deal and 
Walmer Institute, while Gellini Gyngell gave an exhibi- 
tion of fireworks and a magic-lantern display on the 



South Esplanade. 

3XK nsorrma'WMaMTotmnMx rMjuts. 


Bemondsey Square. 

MAY Irt. toJ. fc 1h. ua». 

AmasiBir & Instructinic Entertainments 







au«)bSltonrope vTu^^ 

4f% w i M |iwi 1f i ^ * C Mi tim e TmnM, 

Eraumosa on thM rtgur 90pm, 




One Hnndred JMoYing Flgnreit 

Cbvii. vUbACairie DnM.-.BIr. Bc^mrIo. 


A Gpgdl prognumne of 1823, adver- 
tinng ''A Omfectioiier's Shop," whose 
attendant will serve automatically any 
8(Nt of confectioneiy demanded. From 
the Hany Houdini CoUection. 


A fine notice of both performances 
was published in the Deal 
Telegram of February 23d, 
when the hope was ex- 
pressed that GyngelPs col- 
lection, taken among those 
who enjoyed his outdoor 
performance, repaid him 
for his admirable enter- 
tainment. Gyngell was 
landlord of the BowUng 
Green Tavern at this 
time, and travelled as an 
entertainer only at inter- 

The next appearance of 
the trick is in a book pub- 
lished by M. Henry, a ven- 
triloquist, who played Lon- 
don and the provinces from 
1820 to 1828. During an 
engagement at the Adel- 
phia Theatre, London, 
which according to the pro- 
gramme was about 1822, 
Henry published a book 
entitled ' * Conversazione ; 
or, Mirth and Marvels," 
in which he interspersed 
witty conversation with 
descriptions of his various 


tricks. On page 1 1 he thus describes the automaton un- 
der consideration: 

"Illusion Third. A curious mechanical trick; an inn, 

Reproduction of a rare old colored litlicgraph in three sectioiis. This secticm 
represents Gyngell. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 

from which issues the hostess for orders, upon receiving 

which, she returns into the inn and brings out the various 

liquors as called for by the audience, and at last waiting 



for the money, which, having received, goes in and shuts 
the door. Mr. Henry says he has produced the inn in 
preference to palaces, though more stupendous and mag- 
nificent, thinking, as a certain author wrote, the heartiest 
welcome is to. be found at the inn." 

In the same year Henry issued a challenge open to 
the whole world, defying any performer to equal his 
manipulation of the cup and ball trick. He also employed 
as an adjunct of his conjuring performances Signor de 
Fedori of Rome, an armless wonder, who used his feet 
to play the drum, violin, and triangle. 

A contemporary of Henry was Charles, the great ven- 
triloquist, who varied his performance as did all ventrilo- 
quists of his day, by presenting "Philosophical and 
Mechanical Experiments'' to make up a two-hour-and-a- 
half performance. Charles made several tours of the 
English provinces, and played in London at intervals. 
On a London programme which is undated, but which 
annoimces M. Charles as playing at Mr. Wigley's Large 
Room, Spring Gardens, the second automaton on his 
list is described as "The Russian Inn, out of which comes 
a little Woman and brings the Liquor demanded for." 
Two of his programmes dated Theatre Royal, Hull, April, 
1829, now in my collection, carry a pathetic foot-note 
written in the handwriting of the collector through whom 
they came into my possession: "The audiences on both 
the evenings were extremely small, and the money was 

By referring to the chapter on the writing and drawing 
figure, Chapter III, Page 113, a Schmidt programme of 
1827 will be found, in which he features **The En- 






^OM tk* Qcmlimtmi: 


Aad Duke of Meekknburg Schmerin i 

Hm Um Rm«ai'l«- w^aaint Utc N«bilii]r, Gentry, tttd ll^ PvUic M Iwml 
tiMt ht ha* jwit ^m*cd frMi tbc CMUBtBl, aod win pcrfann imnmm, ttia 
•ad lk« 9tuuiii( Hum Maath* tfJmniMrf, Ftk m mp , and JbrrA, u 

w of /aHMfy. Ftkmmf, •ai JferrA, tT 



cUdj «l Turtw lu- 1: --. ^ , ^1 1- r ,-. imi h'gki li'Clv kt 

Br«|il OrMms^Mf ■■id ^pv^j^ 

rmitOiuni J*,— S^kUlirSikl*, 1..— t/ppvr SmE*, I^ 
N. IL, Tb* Hha I* Inrlkalirhf WARM b^a ■«■ WTctilrd |ir#n^ 

TO 'THE~Pti uE 

Vkiii iIm ^uikk Jlutvi If VEPFl ^ILQUDIIM, ■/■kiriiic triu> tb^ ii riHuT 

chanted Dutch CoflFee -House, an elegant little building. 
On the traveller ringing the bell, the door opens, the host- 
ess attends and provides 
VENTR^QmSM. ^i^ ^j^^ any liquor he 

£j. CH^^RLiM^^ may call for." 

Schmidt seems to have 
confined his exhibitions 
to London and the prov- 
inces and was often con- 
nected with other magi- 
cians, including Gyngell 
and Buck. The latter 
was an English conjurer, 
best known as the man 
who was horribly injured 
when presenting "The 
Gun Delusion." . This 
consisted of having a 
marked bullet shot at the 
performer, who caught 
it between his teeth on 
a plate, or on the point 
of a needle or knife. 
Some miscreant loaded 
the gun with metal after 
Buck had it prepared for 

the trick, and the unfortunate performer's right cheek was 

literally shot away. 
In 1828 Jules de Rovere, a French conjurer, whose 

fame rests principally on the fact that he coined the new 

title "prestidigitator," appeared at the Haymarket Thea- 


Tk* SJEVR pffARLES will perform the folhmimg Sctntt, 

Pm. I. Tk ■edcrk PkHoMphw ; or i Disl«g«« bctwcM Ivo Mm of Iriwii 

•ad Iketr !«*«•• , « TymVt^m. 

II. IN«locwbcl-«««KckMu. bi.nifHci.1.. .Prwii4,UMia«r.M fW »W 

III. Tb« WiM Hcrch*M aad bw Scrrul, wbot. voice »UI b* b*«4 kom th* 

bMMnofa&ltor IW FWtm 

iV. A INalaciM him a trialow, with ■ pcnoa' ia tba Str«« ; whia tbc viadav k aaaa. 

THE VENTRILOQUISM will be prec«d«d by lereral very unatijg PeA 
formanccs, and Mechanical and Scientific Gaiiiet,hiKhly intereatinir: aiiiaa* 
which •III b« a / -8. ««iii» 

.t. The RuMiaR Inn, sot of w.hicb come* a little Woaun wd brian tb« 
liquor demanded for. 

4. A mort. wondaiAil Mechanical Chett of Draircn. 

5. 'a curious TrarclAaK Trunk. 

6. Three Bell*, a U«c|ianical Game, which will 

And tereral tourt d'addrcMc. 

nwli4l>yW.CI(fir|*. Hfrikai 

A Charles poster dated about 1829 in 
which the Russian Inn and its obedient 
little figure are featured. From the 
Harry Houdini Collection. 


tre, London, and also toured the English provinces. A 
clipping from the Oxford Herald of that year includes 
this description of his automaton: ^^One of the clowns 
vanishes from the box, and instantly at the top of the 
hall a little lady, in a little hotel brilliantly illuminated, 
gives out wines and liquors to them who ask for them, 
without any apparent communication with the artiste, 
and yet the lady is only six inches high." 

In the late 30's Rovere made his headquarters in 
Paris, and there he and Robert-Houdin met. The latter 
refers to this meeting on page 153 of his "Memoirs,'' 
when writing of the misfortunes which had overtaken 
Father Roujol, whose shop had once been headquarters 
for conjurers: "Still I had the luck to form here the 
acquaintance of Jules de Rovere, the first to emplov a 
title now generally given to fashionable conjurers." 

And after Rovere, Phillippe, who is by far the most 
important presenter of the Pastry Cook of the Palais 
Royal, as bearing upon Robert-Houdin's claims. 

For Phillippe's early history we must depend largely 
upon Robert-Houdin's "Memoirs." According to these, 
Phillippe started life as a confectioner or maker of sweets, 
and his real name was Phillippe Talon. According to 
an article published in U Illusionniste in January, 1902, 
he was bom in Alias, near Ntmcs, December 25th, 1802, 
and died in Bokhara, Turkey, June 27th, 1878. 

Like many a genius and successful man, his early 
history was written in a minor key. According to Robert- 
Houdin his sweets did not catch the Parisian fancy, and 
he went to London, where at that time French bonbons 
were in high favor. But for some reason he failed in 
9 [129] 


London, and went on to Aberdeen, Scotland, where he 
was very soon reduced to sore straits. In his hour of 

Reproduction of pastel nortrait of l*lnllipi)e. Only known likeness of the 
conjurer in existence. -Maae for him by a Vienna artist. Original now in the 
Harrj' Iloudini Collection. 

extremity his cleverness saved the day. In Aberdeen at 
the same time was a company of actors almost as unfortu- 
nate as himself. They w^ere presenting a pantomime 



which the public refused to patronize. The young con- 
fectioner approached the manager of the pantomime and 
suggested that they join forces. In addition to the 
regular admission to the pantomime each patron was to 
pay sixpence and receive in return a paper of mixed 
sugar plums and a lottery ticket by which he might gain 
the first prize of the value of five pounds. In addition, 
Talon promised not only to provide the sweets free of 
cost to the management, but to present a new and start- 
ling feature at the close of the performance. 

The novel announcement crowded the house, the 
pantomime and the bonbons alike found favor, but the 
significant feature of the performance was young Talon's 
appearance in the finale in the role of "Punch," for which 
he was admirably made up. He executed an eccentric 
dance, at the finish of which he pretended to fall and 
injure himself. In a faint voice he demanded pills to 
relieve his pain, and a fellow-actor brought on pills of 
such enormous size that the audience stopped sympathiz- 
ing with the actor and began to laugh. But the pills all 
disappeared down the dancer's throat, for Talon was 
not only an able confectioner and an agile dancer, but a 
sleight-of-hand performer. From that hour he exchanged 
the spoon of the confectioner for the wand of the magician. 
The fortunes of both the pantomime and Phillippe, as he 
now called himself, improved. Quite probably he re- 
mained with the pantomime company until the close of 
the season and then struck out as an independent per- 

Another story which is gleaned from a biography of 
John Henry Anderson, the Wizard of the North, tells 



how PhiUippe started his career as a pastry cook in the 
household of one Lord Panmure, and I quote this Hterally 
from the Anderson book, because I beHeve it to be truth- 





TV rint Pmrt iit/f nil m w,n 
'n0F>r^ymM\^UrmMt,mMatAJminJO,t,mmi nluhd ik, 


km latortal m€ *•■ Mlaitlva tectovMi •••!• r^rt. 




Tk* M«UBO<j>kMM ^ or, ilw CwV»««l Ckmiim— Tte lonfan Hu Miiktr iii 
Tk« OalbM CwrfwttoMt I or, Toa niiab't Ri<«l. ud Uw LUhiMMa Bw 

•IbM CwitMtooMti or, Tom n<iab't Ri<«l. ud Uw LUhsoiua Bw M>>J-1t1w LMTMd Vaamk— A* ThSt^il 
Ootm .« llM SM-Tk. .j^n cr P.P* Ur»-A Km l,i»am U ■Mkwf S.mimui . k«i kxi l«t tltVllMiir 

Itii<>lu4, (■• KahO ANUELO CHI VRIM. 

lini>.w.rt..riA>B«BK.»<gfaMfrWiKr< LB BINUET OP LOUIS XV. 




U • hick M. nullippt • ill pwfocm lOKM of ik« ow« C>tr<0f4iMfy Tour> d' Admw. tMl.d«( kit mm bnUUol ••d |MMkM 

ii\Duni km eniNESE feats! 

i<ad cewViof V (A« Mi( —rfrUini Full ntr lUmflrd ty my E*nf4*m, —lUUd 
•ft.. EnckMtod On>io-Tk. M.Mio Sapr Uif niul Fliioj Hi»dktrckirfi-ll*owit Hoc ud iko Rm* af KacJMd. ftw 

Xh ..II ^ff- • »«><>'«k ck.wk..7 •• wi c<.«.«.r-ko »«i du« Ik. H.,ki«a Ft?«-^i.?fcr' ■?&•' 

P.r.[>huK>»M I or, Tk« Cook Boucktd-— Tk. Hm of Good Fortya.— E»ilc« >ad lat.k..«ibUP n hiiM> McMnf 

' " ^ Ik. Ofaad Earoi,... Baiaat tad Piodigwa. D««iifc««i. of FloraS Odta. _^ 

Tk. E"ltrtM~"i -ll«d. -.Ik, EACH EVEMNO, ika Arto«aAa£*aJ Surpwa. !««.■•. M;5l«i__ 



1} prMwand la k lk« bom iMiplieabU Toua. oa P»t««u« tt.r .t.on.d, aiid .kKk hato Nifktir bMa 

Doon t« b* •paaod at a Qvaitafpaat 7. PatfeiDianca to commeae* Oaaitai (o 3- 

■• nt .loK Pr*.r(»« u«UaiW< A,ml EUtrttimmnl im Um*%. tod mtt t< m» f tt tthneii H* PMt€ Fnm 

0r ntatofl PrtfTtmm, a ikt mnl ^■ytl Buti 

TtrMj, <ni ha/la M dttrtifUf. 

M. PUIlXIPre wVL h D-m, aad >■ aoaaMtaM. af Ik. imKau sifla.a vkwk kai. lll M dld ka 
m. rauMrr. -». 1 ^^,„q pwfljiuijMceS, (ha . ORAWD 

Jfuveniie Bntertainment, 



rl!?Sf»!i?^iTS»SSw^^^ M *• »«-4» rf •«- Tk-w. .i«k ■ f.' «~- '•«■"»*■•» i -J « "ircmeu* 

'"••"* •'^' ll.jJUbna.WUS''^*""'- . . ..,»..« ^. 

— -^ *. iokrfoa, •■>aHaa (WW rrm^" C*. t>. Hutmt Um, 

Poster used by Phillippe during his engagement at the Strand Theatre, Londcm, 
1845-46. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 

ful, as material gathered from Anderson literature has 
proved to be: 



"It was at this time that he came in contact with a 
person who afterward, under the designation of M. 
Phillippe, became celebrated in France as a magician. 
Phillipee (for so was he named in Scotland) was origi- 
nally a cook in the services of the late Lord Panmure. 
Leaving that employment, he settled down and remained 
for a number of years in Aberdeen. He heard of the 
fame of the youthful magician, was induced to visit his 
^temple/ and was struck with his performances; and 
having made the acquaintance of Mr. Anderson, he 
solicited from him and obtained an insight into his pro- 
fession, and fac-similes of his then humble apparatus. 
Phillippe improved to such a degree upon the knowledge 
he thus acquired that, leaving England for France, he 
earned the reputation of being one of the most accom- 
plished magicians ever seen in the country." 

The date of his initial performance is not known, but 
he must have remained in Scotland, perfecting his act, 
for the earliest Phillippe programme in my collection is 
dated February 3d, 1837, when he opened at Waterloo 
Rooms, Edinburgh, and announced: 

"The high character which Mons. Phillippe has ob- 
tained from the Aberdeen, Glasgow, Greenock and Paisley 
Press, being the only four towns in Britain where he has 
made his appearance, is a sufficient guarantee to procure 
him a visit from the inhabitants of this enlightened 
Metropolis, where talent had always been supported when 
actually deserved." 

Evidently, however, Phillippe made rapid progress, for 
a programme dated Saturday, April 21st, 1838, shows that 
his last daytime or matinee performance in Waterloo 



Rooms was given under the patronage of such members 
of the nobility as the Right Honorable Lady Gifford, the 
Right Honorable Lady H. Stuart Forbes, etc. In an 

PhilHppe and his Scotch assistant, Domingo. The latter became famous 
as a magician under the name of Macallister, introducing in America Pbil< 
lippe's gut show. From a lithograph in the Harry Houdini Collection. 



Edinburgh programme, dated probably 1837, he ^s shown 
as performing his tricks, clad in peculiar evening clothes, 
knickerbockers and waistcoat matching, with a mere 
suggestion of the swallow-tail coat. In his 1838 bill 
he is shown clad in the flowing robes of the old-time 
magician, and he advertises the Chinese tricks, notably 
the gold-fish trick, which demanded voluminous dra- 

According to Robert-Houdin, Phillippe built a small 
wooden theatre in Glasgow. Humble as this building 
was, however, it brought a significant factor into Phil- 
lippe's life. This was a young bricklayer named Andrew 
MacaUister who had a natural genius for tricks and 
models, and who became Phillippe's apprentice, later 
appearing as Domingo, his assistant on the stage, wearing 
black make up. 

In either Edinburgh or Dublin Phillippe met the 
Chinese juggler or conjurer who taught him the goldfish 
trick and the secret of the Chinese rings. 

Armed with these two striking tricks, Phillippe deter- 
mined to satisfy his yearning to return to his native land, 
and in 1841 he appeared at the Salle Montesquieu, Paris. 
Later, the Bonne-Nouvelle, a temple of magic, was 
opened for Phillippe in Paris, and there he enjoyed the 
brilliant run to which Robert-Houdin refers in his 

Phillippe was an indefatigable worker and traveller, 
and one brilliant engagement followed another. During 
the 40's he appeared, according to my collection of pro- 
grammes, all over Continental Europe, and in most of his 
programmes this paragraph is featured: 



'' Part III. 

"An unexpected present at once gratuitous and laugh- 
able, composed of twelve prizes, nine lucky and three 
unfortunate, in which the general public will participate." 

He also continued to distribute bonbons from an in- 
exhaustible source, probably a cornucopia, calling this 
trick "a new system of making sweetmeats, or Le 
Confiseur Modeme." 

During his first engagement in Vienna he had painted 
for advertising purposes a pastel portrait, showing him 
clad in his magician's robes at the finale of the goldfish 
trick. From this picture his later cuts were made. By 
some mistake he left the original pastel in Vienna, where 
I bought it at a special sale for my collection. It re- 
mains an exquisite piece of color work, even at this day. 
So far it is the only real likeness of Phillippe I have 
been able to unearth. 

In 1845-46 he was at the height of his popularity in 
London, where he had a tremendous run. In June, 1845, 
we find him playing at the St. James Theatre, under 
Mitchell's direction, and on September 29th, under his 
own management, he moves to the Strand, where he is 
still found in January of 1846. During all this time he 
featured The Pastry Cook of the Palais Royal under the 
title of "Le Confiseur Galant." 

As proofs that Phillippe used the pastry-cook trick both 
before and during Robert-Houdin's career as a magician, 
I offer several programmes containing accurate descrip- 
tions of the automaton, and also a page illustration from 
a current publication dated Paris, 1843, which shows the 



confectioner or pastry-cook standing in the doorway of 
his house, while the key explaining the various tricks 


c a 

•s * 

cd O 

• s 


5 a 




^-: L 

^^ r** 


tC od 



^ ■ at 



B? ^ 


-^ 2 

= t^ 

.fe ^ 



= T^ 

[± = 

33 « 


'flj »^ 













f: -S Ji 





EP . 

6 "3 


r ^ 






^ ^ 

Si 3 




reads: "No. 9. 

Le Confiseur galant et le Liquoriste 


Robert-Houdin devotes nearly an entire chapter to the 
history of Phillippe and a description of his tricks and 
automata, yet curiously forgets to mention the pastry 
cook, which he later claims as his own invention. 

Ernest Basch, formerly of Basch Brothers, conjurers, 
and the richest manufacturer of illusions in the world, 
claims that the original trick is now in his possession. 
Herr Basch is located in Hanover, Germany, where he 
builds large illusions only. The wonderful mechanical 
house passed to Basch by a bequest on the death of 
Baron von Sandhovel, a wealthy resident of Amsterdam, 
Holland. Von Sandhovel had bought the trick from 
the heirs of Robert-Houdin on the death of the latter, 
because he believed it to be the brain and handwork of 
Opre, a Dutch mechanician of great talent. Ernest Basch 
shares this belief, and with other well-read conjurers 
thinks that Opre was Robert-Houdin's assistant and built 
most of his automata, including The Pastry Cook of the 
Palais Royal, The Windmill or Dutch Inn, Auriel and 
Debureau, The French Gymnasts, The Harlequin, and 
The Chausseur. 

Opre was a man of ability, but lacked presence and 
personality properly to present his inventions. So far 
I have found his name in three places only: On the 
frontispiece of a Dutch book on magic, published in 
Amsterdam; in Ernest Basch's correspondence about 
conjurers; and on page 77 of Robert-Houdin's "Mem- 
oirs," when he speaks of Opre as the maker of the 
Harlequin figure which Torrini asked Robert-Houdin 
to repair during their travels. 

With such convincing proof, some of which was con- 



temporary, that other men had exhibited The Pastry Cook 
of the Palais Royal in its identical or slightly different 





If ^'' 




. .. 

.'■ — ^ 1 


Ernest Basch and "Le Confiseur Galant," which he claims is the original 
Robert-Houdin "Pastry Cook of the Palais Royal.*' From a photograph in 
the Harry Houdini Collection. 

guise, it was daring indeed of Robert-Houdin to claim 
it as his own invention. 

The most direct information regarding Opre comes 



through that eminent family of conjurers known as the 
Bambergs of Holland. At this writing, ''Papa" (David) 
Bamberg, of the fourth generation, is prominent on the 
Dutch stage, and his son Tobias David, known as Okito, 

of the fifth generation, is a 
cosmopolitan magician, pre- 
senting a Chinese act. 

According to the family 
history, traceable by means 
of handbills, programmes, 
and personal correspond- 
ence, the original Bamberg 
(Eliazar) had a vaulting fig- 
ure in his collection of au- 
tomata in 1790, fifty years 
before Robert-Houdin be- 
^ ^^^^^^^ came a professional enter- 

M ^^^^^^ I tainer. This figure was 

made by Opre, to whom 
all conjurers of that time 
looked for automata and 
apparatus. David Leendert 
Bamberg, of the second gen- 
eration, who also had the vaulting figure, was the inti- 
mate friend and confidant of Opre and was authority 
for the statement that Opre's son sold in Paris the 
various automata made by his father, which later Robert- 
Houdin claimed as his own invention. It may be noted 
that Robert-Houdin never invented a single automaton 
after he went on the stage in 1845, and as Opre died in 
1846, the coincidence is nothing if not significant. 


second generation of the Bamberg 
family. Born 1786; died 1869. The 
above daguerrotyne was presented to 
the author by Herr Ernest Basch, 
and is the only one in existence. 



The Obedient Cards, 

TO trace here the history of three very com- 
mon tricks claimed by Robert-Houdin as his 
own inventions would be sheer waste of time, 
if the exposure did not prove beyond doubt 
that in announcing the various tricks of his repertoire as 
the output of his own brain he was not only flagrant and 
unscrupulous, but he did not even give his readers credit 
for enough intelligence to recognize tricks performed re- 
peatedly by his predecessors whom they had seen. Not 
satisfied with purloining tricks so important that one or 
two would have been sufficient to establish the reputation 
of any conjurer or inventor, he must needs lay claim to 
having invented tricks long the property of mountebanks 
as well as reputable magicians. 

The tricks referred to are the obedient card, the 
cabalistic clock, and the automaton known as Diavolo 
Antonio or Le Voltigeur au Trapeze. 

The obedient-card trick, mentioned on page 245 of 
the American edition of his '^Memoirs," as **a novel ex- 
periment invented by M. Robert-Houdin," can be found 
on the programme of every magician who ever laid claim 
to dexterity of hand. Whether they accomplished the effect 



by clock-work or with a black silk thread or a human 
hair, the result was one and the same. It has also been 
worked by using a fine thread with a piece of wax at the 
end. The wax is fastened to the card, and the thread draws 
it up. The simplest method of all is to place the thread 

Card trick as featured by Anderson in 1836-37. From a poster in the Harry 
Houdini Collection. 

over and under the cards, weaving it in and out as it were, 
and then, by pulling the thread, to bring the different 
cards selected into view. 

So common was the trick that its description was 
written in every work on magic published' fi'Om 1784 to 
the date of Robert-Houdin's first appearance, and in at 
least one volume printed as early as 1635. The majority 



of French encyclopaedias described the trick and exposed it 
according to one method or another, and Robert-Houdin 
admits having been a great reader of encyclopaedias. 

The trick first appears in print in various editions of 
^* Hocus Pocus," twenty in all, starting with 1635. The 
majority contain feats with cards, showing how to bring 
them up or out of a pack with a black thread, a hair 
spring, or an elastic. 

In 1772 the rising-card trick was shown in Guyot's 
"Physical and Mathematical Recreations,'' also in the 
Dutch or Holland translations of the same work. In 
1 791 it was minutely explained by Hofrath von Eck- 
artshausen, who wrote five different books on the sub- 
ject of magic. The fourth, being devoted principally 
to the art of the conjurer, was entitled *^Dic Gauckel- 
tasche, oder yoUstandiger Unterricht in Taschenspieler u. 
s. w.," which translated means "The Conjurer's Pocket 
or Thorough Instructions in the Art of Conjuring." 
The title was due to the fact that in olden days conjurers 
worked with the aid of a large outside pocket. The five 
books, published under the general title of " Aufschliisse 
zur Magie," bear date of Munich, Germany. 

On page 138 of the third edition of Gale's "Cabinet of 
Knowledge," published in London in 1800, will be found 
a description of the rising-card trick as done with pin and 
thread, and the same book shows how it is accomplished with 
wax and a hair. This book seems to have been compiled 
from Philip Breslaw's work on magic, "The Last Legacy," 
published in r782. Benton, who published the English edi- 
tion of Decremps' famous work on magic, exposing Pinetti's 
repertoire, also described the trick. "Natural Magic," by 



Conjurer Unmasked 

Reproduction of frontispiece in Breslaw's book on magic, "The Last Legacy," 
published in 1782. Original in tiie Harry Houdini Collection. 



Astley, the circus man, and Hooper's "Recreations," in 
four volumes, published in 1784, expose the same trick. 

As to magicians who performed the trick, their names 
are legion, and only a few of the most prominent conjurers 
will be mentioned in this connection. 

The man who obtained the best effects with this trick 
was John Henry Anderson, who startled the world of 
magic and amusements by his audacity, in 1836, nine 

J. H. Anderson's birth place as drawn by him from memory. The follow- 
ing is written under the sketch in his own handwriting: *' A rough sketch of 
the farm house called *Red Stanes,' on the estate of Graigmyle, Parish of 
Kincardine 0*Neil, Aberdeenshire. The house was built by my grandfather, 
Jc^n Robertson, in the year 1796» and in it I was born on the 15tli day of 
July, 1814. John Henry Anderson." Photographed from the original now 
in the possession of Mrs. Leona A. Anderson, by the author. 

years before Robert-Houdin trod the stage as a pro- 
fessional entertainer. 

Anderson was bom in Kincardine, Scotland, in 1814, 
and started his professional career as an actor. He must 
have been a very poor one, too, for he states that he 
was once complimented by a manager for having brought 
bad acting to the height of perfection. 

Anderson was first known as the Caledonian magician, 
then assiimed the title of the Wizard of the North, which 
10 [ 145 1 


John Henry Anderson, wife and son, from a rare photograph taken in 
1847 or 1848. Said to be an especially good likeness of Mrs. Anderson and the 
only one extant. Photograph loaned by Mrs. Leona A. [Anderson, daughter-in- 
law of the '* Wizard of the North." 



he said was bestowed on him by Sir Walter Scott. Thomas 
Frost belittles this statement, on the grounds that Scott 
was stricken with paralysis in 1830. However, Anderson 
became famous in 1829, so he should be given the benefit 
of the doubt. He was the greatest advertiser that the 





•k<MlSMli«rik«fclM%lh| BMk Dilto, 1«.| GaJlery.SlzpcaMMlf 

O H 9u:m or Tin amts ■▼gMiMol 




mmmBMBBB-sor t9w m^mt twBBKa. 

•■««|M«iMBirClHfti "' ■ ^k;^.-»^»..H| .. — J -.-;-■ ,^.-^ ....— - ,^ 

kMj ■■ Iter lilk (raiatiB n KvHUf BBows.Mk Uii*>Ta] 

■ Veiy Mueposter of 1838 in which Jolin Henry Anderson is billed as "The 
Cneat Mercian." From tlie Harry Houdini Collection. 

world of magic has ever known, and he left nothing 
undone that might boom attendance at his performances. 
He started newspapers, gave masked balls, and donated 
thousands of dollars to charities. He was known in every 



















city of the world, and, when so inclined, built his own 
theatres. He sold books on magic during his own per- 
formances, and would sell any trick he presented for a 
nominal sum. His most unique advertising dodge was 
to offer $500 in gold as prizes for the best conundrums 
written by spectators during his performances. To 
make this scheme more effective, he carried with him his 
own printing-press and set it up back of the scenes. 
While the performance was under way, the conundrums 
handed in by the spectators were printed, and, after the 
performance, any one might buy a sheet of the questions 
and puns at the door. As every one naturally wanted to 
see his conundrum in print, Anderson sold millions of these 
bits of paper. In 1852, while playing at Metropolitan 
Hall, New York City, he advertised his conundrum con- 
test and sold his book of tricks, etc., and such notables as 
Jenny Lind and General Kossuth entered conundrums. 

He was among the first performers to expose the Daven- 
port Brothers, whose spiritualistic tricks and rope-tying 
had astonished America. Directly on witnessing a per- 
formance and solving their methods, Anderson hurried 
back to England and exposed the tricks. 
' To sum up his history, he stands unique in the annals 
of magic as a doer of daring things. He rushed into print 
on the slightest pretext, was a hard fighter with his rivals 
and aired his quarrels in the press, and he was a game 
loser when trouble came his way. Not a brilliant actor 
or performer, he yet had the gift of securing excellent 
eflFects in his mise en scene. He made and lost several 
fortunes, generally recouping as quickly as he lost. He 
was burned out several times, the most notable fire being 



y* Mr**^'c tramlfn.^ tSAurr Jim «i^, 




FnVi Ika OMBj kn^ta 

1 U| WaMct inrtt. 

' |tn*M <MidMHU«w i A^ t hm K ^■-^— '■- b wjpf^&tf 
*■ ^ PJUOtVBt" 

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■r «f lit An J U«f« >« PIT ftv J uri ^ b Hpiw «r bfk *dwMtk4 ^i^r Lk lalcBf^ ud tkM^ lip 1e^ 
tiimuutil'llukelij', J-B. MnhhET, tw. 

(iFJietdt CLlFFUko, Tj^. 
QEiJRak JikKhY, Cal^tlVB dwriiL 

i*T^—amw party bv> lUl »i«M^ wteHferl JVOT pvrfcn 
»• kr cl^ uj iriWr flii Mm mtW lU 1 r<vt ■«, nOHf M 1 
-TiMr.J.F- *--"—- 


Hi M*g;lriu> EatcriHBJiBm- trill iruqmip^rr *r tjf hi a'ckifV fr«<?^j. 


Jp^l^ i:kE UlfL-ii Slirdi -Hill W |i1V>J 'in ■- >'i 

*«^ n>J;r, "^n *b* 4i«f*ci^ u rl i iTni »n- '-r rir« -™ ?-t mnm m»^. 

jf— rtrlirHiST-^nm C l i II I l€k **" 1 1 !' II fkfljhr '!'>!::!' 

n. UuHlu *<U nSS^ hr Wm*rtMrm<-^ *f IKWCD HCUT t 
^^ X^ttlftlC lAPHItTI 

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■MWpiliiii ii»»*M*1«^^ l-Mh mtfwltk ki. MjMta ir«4, »<1ES tJvU 
WAEHUIULr CIWjWn MVL he mi->,n [H THI HEJhllT Of AM 


THE M\ ^^Tir r AllGET. 

Hlt'Ell^ A HEBri£;TE' 


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tl* £b^ i^^v If bat* MJibB «**(>■ UF J d>i, tW ~>r ^ ' '. ^ iW 

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JvBf Ifai n ilrfL ft (k T.rdi rtiibMo. 


Hwkim mJQ ^f LABii liJt N OKtUlHIE^ tQ FLY 1-^ > 


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41 4b« ^ lb U<j< In iPkldi rf Or ^ig. bt i^bFFB ibS .flAK, .^ ik.7 

lftdc«I Ik lb £n rfcscl lb Unj P*->f , 

.. J^ WATC^JN A LOAF. ,_^_, 

£aj^«l»VT If .t H EK'» FHOr 1N TEIE TWKH. 


Iirk»1| I.IU u^n IHf BWtMkik pU 10 tkim^ wmi <J>rt M lb I'^r* ri I MMI l 
^1j w^^ b> bM^ bU, Tu I.T* U nki In lb UtltCtHb, vUk 

Tliii ^Cif^iliii >fl komv Tkfu Huifbwkuk, <m Ahs • [hhIt ^^ tw« tmm 

i-^tiwmrvi IkHLHHDHptf ib *^irtF «.te« PU PtJS t* tPHApi^J : lb 
tSrfU THE ?il4Jj lb m»pV- Am*t,*r4 wW .*j>br U. Eb^ liENUl^E 

-^^ _vi>- HKXk Itr UbOBibkh *!■ afiBa 1 1 

ii..dkori^& w JI h. kw.n<ri A-p» An* (WkH™™. Tt KU,k>b hD bd b. 
SlyHt llui^ IS\ te wfll dlwrlte JiMi I ^^U . k^ *iiJ Err ^ b BuOk n«. 
4f[^^^ sht tt4iat wll W kn^ bl Ik hK^«fc.n4w<• «rpv 

■ n[?(G T PKRroiiMAKC* tnj ttmiriii'liE *iTh 


MJ^f frwilmiB irid. I IIhI pf ^-^ lli^ 



Anderson billing of 1838, featuring obedient cards as "Napoleon's Tridt." 
From the Harry Houdini Collection. 



JfWr Stroma TtuMtref 




KOMDAT, tVB. 8, 1841, 


]I1<^1I. JACOBS^ 


ttoytH VbniHMomUBtf 


■»tiMW<«WMtW«Mi l l<llli t « ^7a.JJ hUtt.ujyrwifc»l«MMS^*y>S'i»llt»«I.C 

fg»lti lW."TW r iiiwiii. i 11 ^ y iMtat M. »y itew .1 Im h«». m < fc m ■JJT. liJiL. Ina^M^ 

Tb Av> uJUkd ly «e»tt ^mf XmAmt; 


■■■ I ji ^ T^ ii. n ii» ■iii<rfi»»*»»«wJSi.itiJg^iJt» I5 i|ih i ..iM.*.*i,..iSfl 

"^ _____ PART I— IfTia THK OY W tT PMt _ 


— — ^i^n^ — »>■»■■ t»m » w 


C^mrm Otm mmd CkrA. 1%$ Rum mmd tFmUu^ Ruif. 

PJtItT IL-- pyEBTL^lC 


I tknlly C 


1, ^-^ in. _r f^K i>« fa ..^ ilTiiM ta ^HM- >ta ii ^ 

a^gtta ^Ni-4r^ y:' 

M ■»■ at aiilM^Hs h. kr *. «*iM. i*. *. _ 

iffWiT— «^F'" 

Jacobs poster, featurinfi; **TheTravellin|j 
Card." From the Harry Iloudini Collcc- 


that of Covent Garden, 
London, in 1 856. He was 
liked in spite of his eccen- 
tricities, but when he died, 
February 3d, 1874, his 
fortune was small. 

Anderson had numer- 
ous imitators, including 
M. Jacobs, "Barney" 
Eagle, and E. W. Young, 
all of whom used the 
rising- or obedient-card 
trick. They copied not 
only his tricks, but the 
very names he had used 
and the style of his billing. 
All three of these men 
were professional magi- 
cians before Robert-Hou- 
din appeared, and Ander- 
son was his very active 

A Jacobs bill is here 
reproduced, showing the 
card trick featured among 
other attractions. The 
lithograph of Jacobs used 
in this connection is an 
actual likeness and I be- 
lieve it to be as rare as it 
is timely. 

^ T"F''M^ 

= « * 


1 153] 



Frontispiece from Eagle's lxx)k, in which he exposes Anderson's ^n de- 
ision. Said by Heniy Evanion, who knew Eagle, to be a fine likeness. 
rom the Harry Houdmi Collection. 



Young's name has been handed down in history be- 
cause he made money on Anderson's reputation, by the 
boldest of imitations, assuming the title of Wizard of the 
North with his own name in small type. One of his bills 

is also reproduced. 
8UK8nUBIMH8» Bamedo or ''Bar- 

ney Eagle is the man 
of the trio of the imi- 
tators who deserves 
more than passing no- 
tice. He became An- 
derson's bitterest ene- 
my, and their rivalry 
made money for th^ 

Eagle could neither" 
read nor write, but hav- 
ing a quick brain he 
hired a clever writer to 
indite his speeches and 
duplicated Anderson's 
show so closely that An- 
derson's pride was hurt . 
He therefore decided 
to expose Eagle, and 
thousands of bills, con- 
stituting a virulent 
attack upon his imitator, were distributed. One of these 
is reproduced. It is so rare that I doubt whether another 
is in existence. 
As Eagle had advertised that he was patronized by 




ihU HypKti-mitr lliiniltu^ uji ^^1' i'4ii>'kiiTi4 the UiSf and 
AiHrrtl^mpDiii. nf J. II. AM>E]KnO\, iJie [nvent4)r 

of A BittiftPTlf 'ruuH I'fi-Hl itli|HtBtutn . wdll ^1 Lh^ HkC of Uk: 
Gfi*Pt H izard nt ibr ^orlh 4 pcfiiliar ff^rhnk'B] |iiTvnj«>A. 
¥lhkh lli:K\ADOtJiJj]biU in hh [liJU, ijLh iit^nal) yet 

¥lhkh lli:K\ADOtJiJj]biU in hh IliJU, U'^ iit%in"<> J^'^ 
CMS iwUhrr ^^tnuUHHJV t*itr tiitfffrMianff the juti^jii] 
ike tmint hj w Lii-ll tu- iniiLt f !h<^ Jill bl jr . .H n Ai\ D K R 

r*B iwUhrr fit^Fmumtt t*<tr tmderntanft the tHeamttff iif 
Ikif tei-m4 hj vv Lii^li tu- tmJL* i !h> »ii bl ir . H n A\ b K R Hf ft V 
willtHi UCRI^AaO mn> huid. (Von, & KhiUiiMrta£tf4^ tti«i 

he cannul rtad ifav AdvcTliM4-iiHijt in ih? 

AflvertipicT,' of 11 

Ulie A AiKhrr hct, 

rwpir^ fnmi l]LK*(.nr. A'*) Bilk rircnkti'it in jl| utdH^ter, 

va jnni»dBj. Nuf pmbfT JAnb. 

BARNEY, when we last ntsty 1 merely nilM jomt 

ifav AdvcTliM4-iiHiit in ih? " Hinninfffaun 
TliHnicLij, l**Ui SfoT«nlirr. ^r A < will 

. m plnck yop clean, not one ahall be left 

thee to spread thy (Eagle) wings of impodtion. 

Should Barney accept thb ehalleiure, the Msaey 
win be spent at CHARLEY CHESHIRE'S. 

An Anderson poster, exposing "Bamey" 
Eagle's tricks. Only bill of this sort in exist- 
ence. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 


royalty, Anderson had another bill printed, showing 
Eagle playing before the King at the Ascot race-track, 
and an assistant passing the hat in mountebank fashion. 
In revenge, Eagle had a book published, in which he 
exposed Anderson's best drawing trick, The Gun Delusion, 
in which the magician allowed any one from the audience 

"BARNEValias the impostor WIZARD 


Wiiidow poster issued by Anderson to belittle his imitator "Barney" Eagle 
and show how the latter secured royal i)ationage. From the Harry Houdini 

to shoot a gun at him using marked bullets. These 
bullets were caught in his mouth or on the point of a 
knife. This trick became as common as the obedient- 
card trick. 

In the face of such overwhelming evidence, Robert- 
Houdin's claim to having invented the obedient-card 




Miff. B,JBagle 

Liut \igM of hU Engagement! 
irUKtrf. «l«iiftltl»» 

Tk« iolkmiit »:nnc« n »«■ A* !>•>« CmmW at Urakm ». ItM- 

IJir.i^*l!17f^>i ••'•*• H%M!!i^ 

On FRIDAY E^eiiiog. Nov 9th. 1838. 

Will k* iMwnic-t ik« Pmiw CMonly "( iW 


Signior Bernardo Ela^le 



Th> FnrluM.'d rtnlt-Th' Tanl ol Di«u.ii...<-Thr L«J>i Th.-wtlii. .1.«n,rrrJ »; 

The Walking Carrfn, 

IU*inpl>rr»P<rk»r(iH<>c>t' 't'.r»IMMj ..•■■and Uu^i. ■.< n« .(. Pfii«Kluul.r> 
•w b« oM lo a ,ui>nd< r»Ur k. ighi iki< ■• («».J. r. J u. be aiw of ikr bra kii. < . .1 .iirufW^ 

TVie Enchanied Orange. 





Wkick ■» •rpeu M (lit Tiklr wkI .ntunii) ••n..h krfm ib< t}r. «( <h. AuJxbm 
' any Gmilnnan't 



rA«ii«f a QmOKlily 0) Copprr, taken <ml of My Gt 
Petkrt, into Silitr. lie real Cnn of tkt Retlm 

»M)Kf.KtHIEf •■II Uloiiiiac<m.»H "•"'""•"' ' 




Th« mwdrHiil INnwa tnkxvti oik tki< I k.-<i ikum k/ mtii m k* kdxfxl. 



NIMB MblD BTBBL .BINO*; , ^.„^... 

BeWM Ik. Pa-tt •! .h' IH-.WM lu .."1 f«i» •>■ luh... T.W. ninM GINEVRA 
0O.NATI;l.kt-i» • huk.kU Siijr. u r«i»a ky k.« on K«r.l 0(c»k.o. >■ ik. 
PICKWICK CLl B. in U»J«i. »JA ii«i ifpUu". •k»»iiij ikr •d.rnium and >un<i«. 
n oimt ikM<l ID » CwilwrU ibw ««. irowblwl .llk m impKliiMnl in hi. .pwtk 


Ht "ill pl»»l« trnworfumnr Tww ba • GnUra>in> W.icb. nnd ik>n h« mil ckuf*. kf 
'i^STirfM— «hJ. .fc» W»fc i.b> . PIEBALD MOUSE. ALIVE. ^ 


H< mil tMDnuia Sii dmIwI Em la dm Km tkt mtii>t o( ikr Rvsa. lk«* <kM(« 

UMBMlm »io>EAuflFi:L WHITi: MICE. 
H< -ai liknte wk< OM (f .ck« e£p due* • WtlM. ind ik«i Jl'MP JIM TROW, 
Cnmct to Mum. k« «ill ikm ialndiMi bii tack«iiud Ind* Mw. >k* nil pk/ atajr 
huy iMilt iiicki mik tka l«di«. 


H« ■ill M* (onMB Pwiity SMd tn • tour pot ud rainiand u 10 (n» l> •• nnllni 

Cnp k>«a«« lk« Eyn cf ik* AndMKt. 
Ra •ill koXM « U4T'i Htadkmki<r. ud «i It HI pwm, kwiiii u ukM. •nd ib« fMMi 
H I. kabodia Ika cabMaf^La^fia •■;?««>' >^ Tan tkaCaopui) cbaaaiMMaM 

Supper far Mt^ 

H* ■m *7 PianhM to • PtiM't kai nikaw A* aid (T in. to til iboM •»• ckaaa a 
TW MbfMMa nil aaMlaJ* •!* 


A **Baniey" Eagle poster ou 
which the obedient-card trick is fea- 
tured as "The Walking Cards." 
From the Harry Houdini Collec- 

trick is nothing short of far- 

The Cabalistic or Obedient 

There might be said to exist 
a very reasonable doubt as to 
the exact date at which Rob- 
ert-Houdin produced the caba- 
listic clock which he included 
among his other doubtful 
claims to inventions. 

On page 250 of the Ameri- 
can edition of his /^Memoirs" 
he has the Cabalistic Clock on 
his opening programme for 
July 3d, 1845, but in the ap- 
pendix of the French edition 
he states that the clock first 
made its appearance at the 
opening of the season of 1847. 
In nearly all his statements 
he is equally inaccurate. 

The mysterious clock might 
be termed the obedient clock, 
for the trick consists in caus- 
ing the hand or hands to obey 
the will of the conjurer or the 
wishes of the audience. 

The hands will point to 
a figure, move with rapidity, 


or as slowly as possible, or in time to music. In fact the 
performer has full control of the hands — he can make 
them do his every bidding. 

The mysterious clock is a trick as old as the obedient- 
card trick, if not. older. It was explained according 
to various methods in books before Robert-Houdin's 
appearance on the stage. In fact, the majority of old- 
time conjuring books explain mysterious clocks carefully. 

Before electricity was introduced, magnets were em- 
ployed, but the earliest method was to make use of thread 
woimd about the spindle of the clock hand, and that 
method is still the very best used to-day, owing to its 
simplicity. The clock, on being presented to the audience, 
may be hung or placed in the position best suited to the 
particular method by which it is being *^ worked." 

It shows a transparent clock face, such as you see in 
any jewelry shop. Some magicians utilize only one hand, 
which permits the easy use of electricity or magnet, while 
others employ two and even three hands. When more 
than one hand is used the hours and minutes are indicated 
simultaneously and, if cards are pasted on the clock face, 
the largest hand is used to find the chosen cards. 

The clock may be placed on a pedestal, in an upright 
position, or hung in midair on two ribbons or strings. 
It can be hung on a stand made expressly for the purpose, 
on the style of a music stand, or it can be swung in a 
frame. In fact, as stated before, it is usually placed so 
as to facilitate the method of working. 

When the cabalistic clock is taken off the hook or the 
stand on which it is placed, and handed to one of the 
spectators to hold, the latter places the hand on the pin 



in the centre of the glass face, and revolves it. The arrow 
or hand is v^orked by a counterweight, controlled by the 

M. Jacobs, magician, ventriloquist, and bold imitator of John Heniy Anderson. 
From a rare lithograph now in the Harry Houdini Collection. 

performer, who has it fixed before he hands it to the inno- 
cent spectator. The clock can be purchased from any 


reliable dealer of conjuring apparatus, in almost any 
part of the world. 

For a clock worked by counterweight the hand of thin 
brass is prepared in the centre, where there is a weight 
of peculiar shape which has at the thin or tapering 
end a small pin. This pin is fixed permanently to the 
weight and can be revolved about the small plate on 
which it is riveted. Through this plate there is a hole, 
exactly in the centre. This hand has all this covered 
with a brass cap, and, to make the arrow point to any given 
number, you simply move the weight with your thumb. 
The pin clicks and allows you to feel it as it moves from 
one hole to another. With very little practice you can 
move this weight, while in the act of handing it to some 
one to place it on the centre of the clock face ; and when 
spim, the weight, of its own accord, will land on the 
bottom, causing the hand to point where it is forced by 
the law of gravity. The plate on which the weight is 
fastened is grooved or milled, so that it answers to the 
slightest movement of your thumb. 

When the clock is on the stage and the hand moves 
simply by the command of the performer or audience, it 
is manipulated by an assistant behind the scenes, either 
by the aid of electricity or by an endless thread which is 
wrapped about the spindle and runs through the two 
ribbons or strings that hold the clock in midair. Some 
conjurers work the clock so arranged as to make a com- 
bination trick; first by having it worked by the concealed 
confederate; then, taking the clock off the stand and 
bringing it down in the midst of the audience. But for 
this trick you can use only one hand. 



Years ago when I introduced this trick in my per- 
formance, I called a young man on my stage and asked 
him to place the hand on the spindle. It would then re- 
volve and stop at any number named. But first I made 
him inform the audience the number he had chosen, 


The above diagram exposes the magic clock trick, as offered in the time of 
Hofrath von Eckartshausen, a German writer on magic in the eighteenth and 
the nineteenth centuries. Fig. 15 shows the clock in position for the trick, hung 
against the rear wall or "drop. " Gaily-colored ribbons hide thin leather tubes 
t&ough which run two sets of stout silk thread or catgut, connecting with 
the hour and minute hands. The thread then passes uirough the two iron 
rings, p and o in Figures 17 and 19, which are screwed to the ceiling; thence 
to the hidden confederate, who manipulates the clock hands as the nour and 
minute are announced by magician or spectator. Fig. 16 shows the two faces 
of the clock, with the fine connecting rcii around wmch the string is woudn 
to manipulate the hands. This mechanism is hidden by a flat orass band 
which encircles the edges of the two transparent faces. From Eckartshausen's 
"The Conjurer's Pocket," edition of 1791. 

which gave me time to fix the weight with my thumb. I 

then gave him the hand, but he was a skilled mechanic, 

and possibly knew the trick. Instead of holding the 

clock by the ring at the top, which was there for that 



purpose, he grasped the dial at the bottom, causing the 
number 6 instead of 12 to be on top. When the hand 
started to turn, of course it would have stopped at the 

'Crm >J70NblERS ! WOl^DEKS! WONDER?! WON- 
UEI^SI and WONDERS! are now t^ be [ttt\\n a Vc y 
warm Roomi at ^o, 22, Piccadilly, ThUaiid ^ery day thi» 
week) from eleven ire. the raor \^g ciU four in ihef AfXAT^ 
noun, and prccirsly aC feven ciocki every evening this week, 

MR. KATTERFELTO will Ibow a varJery 
of new furpriring Exjxiriments in Natural and Expc^ 
rimental Philufopby and Mathematics, and his wh'>le regular 
Cojife of Philolbphical L ^irts ajc ddivftr-d in Twelve 
diftcrent times, a difteient Leidhue and Expsfiinfnt every 
day, «nd every eveniHg at 7 o'clcnrk. His various £xperi* 
ments are as follow, viz. 








By hit new-improved SOLAR MICROSCOPE, 

Will be feen many furi>riring infe^ in different wate s, beer, 

milk J vinegar,, and bloody and other cu.ious objeiis. 
H^^f ^ >i« Jtravtb itor.xJuE^ ?i|^»rTftwv y.-aw jiaft, ';«a?! tHc *ic- 
n&tir x» »4Kibit iiritK gf«at applavfe before the Em^i^fs of 
Au/Imb theC^een of Hnngary, the Ki-^g of PrulTu, Den- 
mark, Sweden^ and Polland, and before many other 

And afiCr his Le^re, Mr. fLatteifelto will fhow ard dif- 
cover fiveralNEW DECEPTIONS, on." 




Admittance, front feats y* fecpnd feats 2S. back fvats 
19. for fervaKts only. 

Newspaper dipping of 178S, showing that Katterfelto used the cabalistic clock. 
From the Harry Houdini Collection. 

wrong number. I managed to escape humiliation by 
pretending I was afraid he would break the clock by 
letting it fall, so took it away from him, holding it myself. 
II [ 161 ] 


Reprodu(?tion of rare engraving of Johann Nep. Hofsdnser, who invented 
the clock worked by a counter-weight, and who was one of the worid's great- 
est card tricksters. Original in the Harry Houdini Collection. 

...i Jt 


The mechanic walked off the stage winking at me in the 
most roguish manner. 

Robert-Houdin worked The Mystic Bell trick in con- 
nection with The Clock. This was manipulated in the 
same way. The bell was worked with thread, pulling 
a small pin, which in turn caused the handle to fall 
against the glass bell. Naturally, having electricity at 
his command at that time, he made use of that force 
whenever it suited his fancy. 

I am positive that Robert-Houdin presented the elec- 
trical clock, because T. Bolin, of Moscow, visited Paris 
and bought the trick from Voisin, the French manu- 
facturer of conjuring apparatus. The trick which Robert- 
Houdin pfesented, according to his claims, was with the 
clock hanging in midair to prove that it was not electri- 
cally connected, but the truth of the matter is that the 
Strings which held the clock suspended in midair con- 
cealed the wires through which his electrical current ran. 

In my library of old conjuring books the thread meth- 
od is ably described by Hofrath von Eckartshausen, 
mentioned earlier in this chapter. In fact in the pictorial 
appendix of this work he gives this trick prominence by mi- 
nutely illustrating the same. He makes use of two hands, 
and to make the trick infallible he explains that the best 
way would be to use two glass disks, have them held 
together by a brass rim, and your threads will work with 
absolute certainty. The spectators imagine that they are 
seeing only one glass clock. 

Johann Conrad Gutle, the well-known dclver after 
secrets of natural magic, also explains several cabalistic 
clock tricks in his book published in 1802. 



I am reproducing herewith a number of programmes 
describing the effect of the trick and proving that it was 
no novelty when Robert-Houdin "invented" it. In fact 
the trick was so common that only the supreme egotism 




- ,.^?^Av\iy'rf//^j- ;s«i 




''^- . 



K^HWlH '1 "' ii r r 


Reproduction of a triple colored lithograph. This section features Breslaw in 
stage costume. Original in the Harry Houdini Collection. 

of the man can explain his having introduced it into the 
pages of his book as an original trick. The mysterious 
clock worked by the counterweight, which has been 



described, is credited as having been the invention of 
Johann Nep. Hofzinser. 

In an advertisement, published in the London Post of 
May 23d, 1778, included in my collection, this announce- 
ment, among others of much interest, will be found : 

"Part II. — Breslaw will exhibit many of his newly 
invented deceptions with a grand apparatus and experi- 

Katterfdto, the bombastic conjurer, who is famous for having sold sulphur 
matches in 1784, before the Lucifer match is supj)osed to have Ix^ii discovered. 
Reproduced from a rare copy of "The European Magazine," dated June, 
1783, now in the Harry Houdini Collection. 

ments and particularly the Magic Clock, Sympathetic 
Bell, and Pjn^amidical Glasses in a manner entirely new." 
In 1 781, while showing at Greenwood's Rooms, Ilay- 
market, London, Breslaw heavily advertised, ^'Particularly 
an experiment on a newly invented mechanical clock 



will be displayed, under the direction of Sieur Castinia, 
just arrived from Naples, the like never attempted before 
in this metropolis." 

There is every reason to believe that Katterfelto, the 
greatest of bombastic conjurers, used the electrical clock 
in his performances, as he made a feature of the various 
late discoveries, and in his programme of 1782 he adver- 
tises "feats and experiments in Magnetical, Electrical, Op- 
tical, Chymical, Philosophical, Mathematical, etc., etc." 
Among implements and instruments or articles men- 
tioned I found Watches, Caskets, Dice, Cards, Mechan- 
ical Clocks, Pyramidical Glasses, etc., etc. 

Gyngell, Sr., the celebrated Bartholomew Fair conjurer, 
whose career started about 1788, had on his early pro- 
grammes, "A Pedestal Clock, so singularly constructed 
that it is obedient to the word of command." On the 
same programme (Catherine Street Theatre, London, Feb- 
ruary isth,.i8i6) I find "The Russian Inn," "The Con- 
fectioner's Shop," and "The Automaton Rope Vaulter." 
This programme is reproduced in full in Chapter IV. 

Without devoting further space to Robert-Houdin's 
absurd claim to having invented this clock, we will 
proceed to discuss his claims to the automaton rope 
walker, which he called a trapeze performer. 

The Trapeze Automaton 

Though "Diavolo Antonio" or "Le Voltigeur Trapeze ^^ 
was not a simple trick, but a cleverly constructed au- 
tomaton, worked by a concealed confederate, it was a com- 
mon feature on programmes long before Robert-Houdin 






TlM o«l*brat0a M. ROBSKT-HOUDIN wlU give his laerediblo 
Delusions and Extraordinary 






lABSt Day Performance 







■ Ik ■'a KOTAi. x.ib»a»t, aa. oiiD.aoaB avmaa*. 

m IMV %md Mi^ fc fcMA SMl Urn^ bn'. H«o.uilX Auaon'iv AmnV. Lum> «ri OmT^ HumaX CUmuX «« 
. . .!» ■■■U^mDmlf.lhmthmM/lm/tlmt^ 

Copy of a poster us°d by Robert-Houdin to advertise his trapeze perfonner. 
Hiifl proves how accurately he duplicated the Pinetti figure, even to the ar- 
rangement of floral garlands. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 



claimed it as his invention. Yet with the daring of one 
who beheves that all proof has been destroyed, he an- 
nounces on page 312 of the American edition of his 
** Memoirs" that he invented ^'The Trapeze Performer" 
for his season of 1848. In the illustrated appendix of his 
French edition he states that the figure made its first 
appearance at his Paris theatre, October ist, 1849. He 
thus describes the automaton : 

'^The figure is the size of an infant, and I cany the 
little artist on my arm in a box. I put him on the trapeze 
and ask him questions, which he answers by moving his 
head. Then he bows gracefully to the audience, turning 
first this way, then that; suspends himself by his hands 
and draws himself up in time to the music. He also goes 
through the motions of a strong man, hangs by his head, 
hands, and feet, and with his legs making the motions of 
aerial telegraphy." 

Decremps in his expose, ^^The Conjurer Unmasked," 
published in 1784, thus describes the automaton and its 
work: ^^Our attention was next called to observe an 
automaton figure, that vaulted upon a rope, performing 
all the postures and evolutions of the most expert tum- 
blers, keeping exact time to music. By seeing Mr. Van 
Estin wind up the figures, and being shown the wheels and 
levers contained in the body of the automaton, caused us 
to believe it moved by its own springs, when Mr. Van 
Estin thus explained the deception: *To make a figure of 
this kind depends a great deal on the proportion and the 
materials with which it is composed : The legs and thighs 
are formed out of heavy w^ood, such as ash or oak; the 

body of birch or willow, and made hollow, and the head, 


R^roduction of an illustration in "Aufschlttsse zur Magie,*' by Ilofrath 
von E^ckartshausen, showing the automatic rope vaulter as exhibited in 1784 
by Finetti. Original in the Harry Houdini Collection. 



for lightness, of papier-mache. The figure is joined by its 
hands to a bar of iron, that passes through a partition, 
and is turned by a confederate; the arms are inflexible 
at the elbows, but move freely at the shoulders by means 
of a bolt that goes through the body; and the thighs and 

"Mr. BOLOGNA, Jim^ ^^ 
Mechanical £xhibitioD/ 

jgi ike Sans Pareii Theatre. Strand. 

ilSfewnTBteiiiiig, V H" I iiTi'rHl^t'lSig, 
Automaton Rope l^teefftT 




nmcMt or MmatS^oi. cjujlmo. 


€fr Amicmuttem Shadowa, 

rtkm from the IrnAj Aifanired Onihra Cbinolk 

A GNMd IMvlaj of Expcrinemtiii 

■navkabafilta tki PMdMiiaa oTMr. BOLOGNA. Jufat. 

A Bologna bill of 1812, featuring the automatic rope dancers. From the 
Harry Houdini Collection. 

legs move in the same manner at the hips and knees, and 
are stayed by pieces of leather to prevent them from 
bending in the wrong v^ay. The bar is covered with hollow 
twisted tubes, and ornamented with artificial flowers, 
so as no part of it can be seen to turn ; the confederate 



by giving the handle a quarter of a turn to the left, the 
automaton, whose arms are parallel to the horizon, lift 
themselves by little and little, till they become vertical 
and parallel to the rest of the body; if in following the 
same direction, the other part of the body moves forward ; 
and by watching the motions through a hole, he seizes 
the instant that a leg passes before the bar, to leave the 
automaton astride; afterward he balances it by jerks, 
and causes it to take a turn around, keeping time with 
the music as if it was sensible of harmony. 

" N.B. — Three circumstances concur here to favor the 
illusion: First, by the assistance of a wire, the confederate 
can separate the bar from the automaton, which, falling 
to the ground, persuades one it loses itself by real machin- 
ery. Secondly, in winding up the levers shown in the 
body, confirms the spectators in the idea that there is 
no need of a confederate. Thirdly, the tubes that are 
twisted around the bar, except where the automaton is 
joined to it, seem to be the rope itself, and being without 
motion, as is seen by the garlands which surround them, 
it cannot be suspected that the bar turns in the inside, 
from whence it is concluded that the figure moves by 
its own machinery." 

According to one of de PhilipsthaPs advertisements, 
page 103, the trapeze automaton which he featured 
was six feet in height. But Pinctti programmes show 
that he had a smaller figure known as the rope vaultcr. 
This is probably the trick exposed in Decremps' 

On page 108 will be found a Louis programme of 
1815, on which a figure is thus featured: 



''Two Elegant Automata 

"As large as nature, the one representing a beautiful 
PoLONNESE, the other a little boy. 

"Nothing can surpass the admirable construction of 
these Pieces. The large figure seems almost endowed 
with human Faculties, exhibiting the usual feats of a 
Rope-Dancer, in the fullest imitation of life. The small 
Figure is invested with equally astonishing powers of 
action. To such ladies as are spectators it must be a very 
pleasing circumstance that these exertions do not excite 
those disagreeable sensations which arise from the sight 
of Figures fraught with life, performing feats attended 
with so much danger." 

By referring to page 113 the reader will find a Schmidt 
programme, dated 1827, ^^ which the figure is featured 
as follows: 

"The Rope Dancer, 

"Whose surprising performances surpass, in agility, 
attitudes, and evolutions, every Professor of the art, keep- 
ing correct time to the music of the machinery." 

A Gyngell programme, dated 1823, which is reproduced 
in the chapter devoted to "The Pastry Cook of the Palais 
Royal," page 125, reads as follows: " Two automatons, 
one of which will execute wonderful feats on the tight 
rope, and the other dance a characteristic hornpipe." 

As Gyngell figured in the amusement world from 1788 

to 1844, the little figure must have been tolerably well 

known to the magic-loving public of England by the 

time Robert-Houdin appeared in London in 1848. 

A magician named York, who appeared in London in 


Hi8~ Majesty's Royal Letiere Patent^ 

Newljr ereiEted in the Circus, HULL, 

fh f -• ■ " - -'-' " '—'■*•"««•* -^ ■■aNwtwi MICHAKICAL WOitKS, Il3} 


IZ fhtM. a^ *te ktr l«w M* ••<P*a>idlr « ii>CM At NobUiir. Ontnr,. lad PaMic •! 
iTAM^te f(H4 ar Sw •bM rhM «r AmSimm ia M ApM MMwr. fiw «>lubitH« Ma 
rTri^— •■-! *— -^•~«^- 1 ■■=•■■■■■■«■■■•— -^ AKT. avraTbdan Im ia ikit Pbae, arf 
SSTpaiM aflitowhy aa< Jwatw Mt w ii M . ■tiia tlia atwado. af lU lUalu. i«l pank- 
_L -f iITflMaliMi If-"- r ^ * huiMwCUtlDceavcraaKiefaMidaaaf tka 

tfClrfftaa^ ani Jw Watility i« taa<aii.lceAaJrif«lMA an* hiriy i« Mwlwfcr. 
TWM nmlig^ittW 

On MONDAY Evening November lo, 1806^ 

A^lVntT tVlWINC aiB *uuUt —i. wiA dw Mlo»ii^ iaiif ilwt O^mmt 


rSSmSmTSk UpSi/.m* tttimlmM-rvmmwA .kich *.| ft» iavtlal. ika 
Mhain W f liiiiiw ii AmSnai ■ 

Two Elegant Automats, 

EkiM UTTLE PAfLASsC^lMfc'W^'MNaimMa.dl 

Kfc, pifferau u a ROPE DAMCER >■ 

d ikiMglMwi Bat«pe:— the other U in 

i ami fumtn of AAiaa arc eqnally aloaiOuag. 

The Mechanical PEACOCK, 

AwrfliMfciJPiMafAnifcialA BiMli M w Mrt iminm. C) cMtlr. the Crin. Aaieni, lad 
AMiMliiar ital tedx aadbcMiM IM. tkaifa •■ mi aafreqatmlr r«»oM lobeaaabfolaMtt* 
'l fliiaiTt. y iat w ly miaaJ t» aft ae aa Md & g < tMp«i« a agoa ibe Pabiic. 

The Magnetic Clock, 

rovRTii nccc-THC iroNOHruL *: 

ndby a ckanaeriAic Kgu 

The Senfative WIND-MILL, 





.Yte «taw lifa taa te iM «f dw toM^Mi^ faiariai iaco auny deUthiM Feaui^ 


^ fc W^dMj Eliw a i h ttiaEr wM wpAwr w jh, CWiatof ihelViw. theWtitr 
alfeakMH M ih* 6m Mgk a URft .iih CMdIts bamiaf . 


%**■" ■f *"i *r ti I g.,. •„.,.,■ .>w^.-j.«ffTnTTrrfiiiiithiMniililiciM 

T» -Xu •» ba adM fMial Origiaal bfcriiaeau in ihc SeiMM «f 


AHaapaaMlf aiMMadaiiSMni af 

Thunder, Ligbtniog, &c. &c. 

tWiMi wMb •!* I Ma «f «HiMi a«l iMdU MECHANICALiirfOmCAI. 


JHrpUyedl_in the Centre of a Tranfpafcnt Arbour. 

A de Philipstfaal programme of 1806 on which both the automatic tight-rope per- 
Htttner and the magnetic clock were featured. PVom the Harry Houdini Collection. 

, A Thiodcm bill of 18S5, in which he claims the invention of a figure that could 
°p lifted on or off the stage or pole. This was twenty-five years before Robert- 
Uoudin daimed the same invention. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 


n« Hall ami Sealcoate* Di«rea««r)'. 

^^ dHntaalnl ant yutnrMqnt 

The atre of A rts> 


View of the JmmrulPOLE, 

tWintii, III lit «»* »r'w«»a>t.»»».»..»c«n«-t>w .rfMwtt.iirt.««ttrftm».PHp>wM> 

Ou Monday^ January lird, 18-25, 



• nil liK •ondrrful aiul imv.'I dL«plu> tt 

Mechanical and Mathematical 






APTW waica viu ■■ puawrrw tm u«uvirift ictNi or tw 

Voyage of Captain Parry to tlic 

North Pole: 

Hw pamag* timmtgk the fVwtn Strain, mmMigti Hn 

FliOATINO l€fi. 

Oa Ikalkara •« he aea CMaiaMn. •ilk ihtir 8l(d(n dr«»a b; Dect-Bnn panatd ted 

UM If iMlan. Al lea •al he rtfmtaM Beqaimiui W«arn lo ibcir ailitc 8«li : alto ikc 

J mM H •/ «** *■***» >»*» <*« Ditntrt SUp$. F»s mud Ht tU. 



Vila aAvavAifc ov ai«ikikAsiii>» -^ 

nb «W !• ^km »M <ta OU aaa,M TW Vi.. •( A. a,'^ m m ih. AaMtl. Tt. Tm* • 
Irti epM niM Mm hM Motm I* ik« wm •» m • tiH«U npfwiuiiM tt il« M.t «• Cm ••••. 

if II Aquatic Exhibiiion on the River, 

A MMi, <r Mi. b wmotM ■!* Mwnl TnfMn d Vtcfwy. Ik. Akmi W .k^k he^anN. », Mw ..J. «(»m 
ka rfbr iiiiriii Uhw. • PmM It •«• » |». tk« T.p, m4 k»w a*.! •kt Ptue. 


On Me Flying Rope; 

«iHMa«l)MMlktiM(MkM4Mlk«IU«k; ik> Hm4.'. I.k« 

•■ri IMtM. Mri Ik. rifw* «UI ail ••HmiI; «Hy. m^I. • pw 

riMmtMiKnn Mi'iirtiik ATmMM CwM^ 


(Storm at Sea! 

>— AfMiM •/ ika Wi.«— CIm4>. t , .., 

- 1I • Tia^Mi. Mnck kj ■.•iki.Mf, h4 kMiii .■(•iph.rf a ik« Dm- 


I am reproducing herewith a number of programmes 
describing the effect of the trick and proving that it was 
no novelty when Robert-Houdin ^'invented" it. In fact 
the trick was so common that only the supreme egotism 

Reproduction of a triple colored lithograph. This section features Breslaw in 
stage costume. Original in the Harry Houdini Collection. 

of the man can explain his having introduced it into the 
pages of his book as an original trick. The mysterious 
clock worked by the counterweight, which has been 



described, is credited as having been the invention of 
Johann Nep. Hofzinser. 

In an advertisement, published in the London Post of 
May 23d, 1778, included in my collection, this announce- 
ment, among others of much interest, will be found : 

"Part II. — Breslaw will exhibit many of his newly 
invented deceptions with a grand apparatus and experi- 

Katterfelto, the bombastic conjurer, who is famous for havinpf sold sulphur 
matches in 1784, before the I^ucifer match is supposed to have lx»en discovered. 
Reproduced from a rare copy of "The European Magazine," dated June, 
1783, now in the Harry Houdmi Collection. 

ments and particularly the Magic Clock, Sympathetic 
Bell, and Pyramidical Glasses in a manner entirely new." 
In 1 781, while showing at Greenwood's Rooms, Ilay- 
market, London, Breslaw heavily advertised, ^* Particularly 
an experiment on a newly invented mechanical clock 



will be displayed, under the direction of Sieur Castinia, 
just arrived from Naples, the like never attempted before 
in this metropolis." 

There is every reason to believe that Katterfelto, the 
greatest of bombastic conjurers, used the electrical clock 
in his performances, as he made a feature of the various 
late discoveries, and in his programme of 1782 he adver- 
tises '* feats and experiments in Magnetical, Electrical, Op- 
tical, Chymical, Philosophical, Mathematical, etc., etc." 
Among implements and instruments or articles men- 
tioned I found Watches, Caskets, Dice, Cards, Mechan- 
ical Clocks, Pyramidical Glasses, etc., etc. 

G}Tigell, Sr., the celebrated Bartholomew Fair conjurer, 
whose career started about 1788, had on his early pro- 
grammes, ^^A Pedestal Clock, so singularly constructed 
that it is obedient to the word of command." On the 
same programme (Catherine Street Theatre, London, Feb- 
ruary isth,.i8i6) I find ^'The Russian Inn," "The Con- 
fectioner's Shop," and "The Automaton Rope Vaulter." 
This programme is reproduced in full in Chapter IV. 

Without devoting further space to Robert-Houdin's 
absurd claim to having invented this clock, we will 
proceed to discuss his claims to the automaton rope 
walker, which he called a trapeze performer. 

The Trapeze Automaton 

Though " Diavolo Antonio" or " Le Voltigeur Trapeze" 
was not a simple trick, but a cleverly constructed au- 
tomaton, worked by a concealed confederate, it was a com- 
mon feature on programmes long before Robert-Houdin 






TIM oetobratod M. ROBXRT-HOUDIN wta give his laendlble 
Detasions and Xactraordlnary 








' "OLT^Ct CLt TRft^P^^^ 

Mjost Hay Performmnee 






mVATB BOXSSkORCHF^TRA stalls, and TICKBT8, aiT n McmM M _ 

■m. MivoaiaiifcT^moTAt. biBmABT, as, oi.b sons ■*»>>«. . .. . 

M Mr tqri Ui7.C teiA SM: ll>-v., «-»^. H«»»y^ *"-!?''• A«^. Wj"-"* <if«^ H-««r^ CmnuX •■« OiraA UIhH 

G>py of a poster us«d by Robert-Houdin to advertise his trapeze performer. 
This proves how accurately he duplicated the Pinetti figure, even to the ar- 
rangement of floral garlands. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 



claimed it as his invention. Yet with the daring of one 
who beheves that all proof has been destroyed, he an- 
nounces on page 312 of the American edition of his 
"Memoirs" that he invented ''The Trapeze Performer" 
for his season of 1848. In the illustrated appendix of his 
French edition he states that the figure made its first 
appearance at his Paris theatre, October ist, 1849. He 
thus describes the automaton: 

''The figure is the size of an infant, and I carry the 
little artist on my arm in a box. I put him on the trapeze 
and ask him questions, which he answers by moving his 
head. Then he bows gracefully to the audience, turning 
first this way, then that; suspends himself by his hands 
and draws himself up in time to the music. He also goes 
through the motions of a strong man, hangs by his head, 
hands, and feet, and with his legs making the motions of 
aerial telegraphy." 

Decremps in his expose, "The Conjurer Unmasked," 
published in 1784, thus describes the automaton and its 
work: "Our attention was next called to observe an 
automaton figure, that vaulted upon a rope, perforaiing 
all the postures and evolutions of the most expert tum- 
blers, keeping exact time to music. By seeing Mr. Van 
Estin wind up the figures, and being shown the wheels and 
levers contained in the body of the automaton, caused us 
to believe it moved by its own springs, when Mr. Van 
Estin thus explained the deception : ' To make a figure of 
this kind depends a great deal on the proportion and the 
materials with which it is composed : The legs and thighs 
are formed out of heavy wood, such as ash or oak; the 

body of birch or willow, and made hollow, and the head, 


Ra>roduction of an illustration in "Aufschllisse zur Maji^ie," by Hofrath 
von Eckartshaiuen, showing the automatic rope vaulter as exhibited in 1784 
by FinettL Origiiial in the Harry Houdini Collection. 



for lightness, of papier-mach^. The figure is joined by its 
hands to a bar of iron, that passes through a partition, 
and is turned by a confederate; the arms are inflexible 
at the elbows, but move freely at the shoulders by means 
of a bolt that goes through the body; and the thighs and 

^Air.BOIjOe^NA.Jiiii'ii ^ 
Mechanical £xhibition, 

JR the Sans ^'^^ ' ^^f 'P^ Strand. 
» Automaton Rope 

^JUR^fL'frraa Const 


€fr Autamatm Shadowa, 



CkiUd Fun amd Water, 

A Bologna bill of 1812, featuring the automatic rope dancers. From the 
Harry Houdini Collection. 

legs move in the same manner at the hips and knees, and 

are stayed by pieces of leather to prevent them from 

bending in the wrong way. The bar is covered with hollow 

twisted tubes, and ornamented with artificial flowers, 

so as no part of it can be seen to turn ; the confederate 



by giving the handle a quarter of a turn to the left, the 
automaton, whose arms are parallel to the horizon, lift 
themselves by Kttle and little, till they become vertical 
and parallel to the rest of the body; if in following the 
same direction, the other part of the body moves forward ; 
and by watching the motions through a hole, he seizes 
the instant that a leg passes before the bar, to leave the 
automaton astride; afterward he balances it by jerks, 
and causes it to take a turn around, keeping time with 
the music as if it was sensible of harmony. 

" N.B. — Three circumstances concur here to favor the 
illusion: First, by the assistance of a wire, the confederate 
can separate the bar from the automaton, which, falling 
to the ground, persuades one it loses itself by real machin- 
ery. Secondly, in winding up the levers shown in the 
body, confirms the spectators in the idea that there is 
no need of a confederate. Thirdly, the tubes that are 
tvdsted around the bar, except where the automaton is 
joined to it, seem to be the rope itself, and being without 
motion, as is seen by the garlands which surround them, 
it cannot be suspected that the bar turns in the inside, 
from whence it is concluded that the figure moves by 
its own machinery." 

According to one of de PhilipsthaPs advertisements, 
page 103, the trapeze automaton which he featured 
was six feet in height. But Pinetti programmes show 
that he had a smaller figure known as the rope vaulter. 
This is probably the trick exposed in Decremps' 

On page 108 will be found a Louis programme of 
1815, on which a figure is thus featured: 



*'Two Elegant Automata 

"As large as nature, the one representing a beautiful 
PoLONNESE, the other a little boy. 

"Nothing can surpass the admirable construction of 
these Pieces. The large figure seems almost endowed 
with human Faculties, exhibiting the usual feats of a 
Rope-Dancer, in the fullest imitation of life. The small 
Figure is invested with equally astonishing powers of 
action. To such ladies as are spectators it must be a very 
pleasing circumstance that these exertions do not excite 
those disagreeable sensations which arise from the sight 
of Figures fraught with life, performing feats attended 
with so much danger." 

By referring to page 113 the reader will find a Schmidt 
programme, dated 1827, ^^ which the figure is featured 
as follows: 

"The Rope Dancer, 

"Whose surprising performances surpass, in agility, 
attitudes, and evolutions, every Professor of the art, keep- 
ing correct time to the music of the machinery." 

A Gyngell programme, dated 1823, which is reproduced 
in the chapter devoted to "The Pastry Cook of the Palais 
Royal," page 125, reads as follows: '* Two automatons, 
one of which will execute wonderful feats on the tight 
rope, and the other dance a characteristic hornpipe." 

As Gyngell figured in the amusement world from 1788 

to 1844, the little figure must have been tolerably well 

known to the magic-loving public of England by the 

time Robert-Houdin appeared in London in 1848. 

A magician named York, who appeared in London in 


His Majesty's Roy&l Letters Patent^ 

Newly ercAed in the Circus, HULL, 

JUfa««r MMMAn APPARATUS afikt — >i. i« i8>i MBCHANtCAL WORKS, «i> 


M M AMtSMMblM d« 

Prad«aiM«f ART. Bt*e 

• RecMUiea, mMu ih* mi 
tcMBeti li MtepaflbteM 


LiM fairly wMiiclwaw. 

„_ „,. JucktetMMiftbjctiS 

ar^t- fc. toilM* ■» 3tnb»w»liM rf A— ft— K hM Ami ■«»». fcr wMhiii^W 
iTlirMSi il Ri jiilwrr^ -"* '->-="- -— ■-^— -^ ART. mntt bcfcfe fan i> ikU Pboe, ami 


TlwSiR iftritwiMW 

On MONDAY Evening November lo, 1806^ 

iM IVIRT EVBNING •«» aM>4qr MU. wiik dM Mlo«ii« iaim«ii« Okj«raii 


Two Elegant Automats, 

OM«r»ydi illiiTif • riMALt nCURR, nUigtiiliA. p«fccmt*ia ROPRDANC 
■oM J i i l M i l i T'-'-^ Itt'-'- '-i-*'r cckCrmml tkmvhoM Earope:-di«oihei 
Cm UTTU PAUJUS^?&<«aw>'MNM««mndP«<rn7or AMma^TcswU/tftaa 

The Mechanical PEACOCK, 

^HlJMl. fnfHl]rtltiM«WKIMMHMMgaCCqKM««rMIMrilHK. 

The Magnetic Clocks 

full iiiRiiliili wfcBpi t irfwitwoCtoyRdColiwM. tadfimMaMcdbrackanacriUkPin 

The Senfative WIND-MILL, 

WhM nnlMi in MiM t9;^*»««tI"H6 of • WoH fro- m« Sp(a>iar..>Ml 

l— » .fcty «h» WA- iT Ih. 0q«^, b, .^^ Ci* g/ £S«. 





/7R^ OjP different KINDS, 


%itoaMy MkTjHr kwdM Kar«i-M> •Mm Mr Ofcn m. w Ih* Mi(Uiai» 
T* -Xu •» te adM fe*ml Origtad BsftriflMMi in Ike SciMcc af 



Thunder* Lightning, &c. &c. 

IVviHi MMft •!* tMa •TtAiMl M< iMriM MBCHANICALMipmCAL 


^Oirplaycd_in the Centre of a Tranfparcnt Arbour. 

■Minf awBrrr OP 
ne Hail and Scalcoates Dispensary. 

J. F. THIobON'S 

Theatre of Arts. 


View of the jyORTUPOLE, 

On Mondaff^ ^January ttrd, 18*25, 


l<«Tf»P«Y ClCi""«-» 

M. TlUOBON will coniBmcr »iib Iik Momlrrrul «uii nor^l ivfUay of 

Mechanicat and Mathematical 

rSATB op 


UV'i'bn NMMW 




■HMTU TRK •■AUTinil Wtllt OV TKS 

Voyage of Captain Parrj to the 

North Pole: 

JKr JMM^ff tfrNy* «iW /V«m Strain, mmtmgM Ike 

FliOATllVG ice. 

0« *• mm* *»Umim Smmmmi, »ilb ikeir SMsm draws kjp DM.-BMn ranutd m4 

MM ly luten. At Sm •iH k« nfMxaM Biqiiianus Wumra la Ikcir natin BoaH ; aba ikt 

^ mMKg^AtSmUmfitm Ikt DittuMrt Skip*, nryamd Ht eta. 



Vila OAVBVAifc OV m«flkflkAisa>a -^ 

MMmn. UikitMmtriUaiibMMiM^ — 

if« j§qmmHe Exhibiiion on ihe JRiver. 

rouKTii nBC&— TNI woNOEaruL and vkrivalleo 


Om ike Fiying Rope; 

aMaTtl tal^tS^uH^liZ^Cf^ ihI'mmI.'. bkt ^Hfn'b! J!«rnk!k.u4. Vl. «.,.«« ki to «•■ 
li tj ^ fci M ». wJS§ » a. 4M t * > i»* t-m , LIVING PkaFORMU. « it •...TIm •»• mm Cmim 

Storm at Sea! 

. A de Philipstfaal programme of 1806 on which both the automatic tight-rope per- 
'oiTxier and tne magnetic clock were featured. PVom the Harry Houdmi Collection. 

, A Thiodon bill of 1825, in which he claims the invention of a figure that could 
5p lifted on or off the stage or pole. This was twenty-five years before Robert- 
"^^din daimed the same invention. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 



1844, the year before Robert-Houdin made his professional 
d^but, featured under date of January 29th "two autom- 
atons, one of which will execute wonderful feats on the 
Tight Rope, and the other dance a characteristic Horn- 

Bologna announced for his performance at the Sans 
Pareil Theatre, Strand, London, under date of March 
1 8th, 181 2, "The Two Automaton Rope Dancers from 
St. Petersburg, whose Feats of Agility were never 
equalled, and cannot be surpassed, will perform together 
in a style of Excellence hitherto unknown in this country." 

De Phihpsthal also featured a pair of automatic tight- 
rope performers from 1804 until his death; and in the 
early 30's the figures were exhibited by his widow. By 
referring to Chapter III. a De-Phihpsthal programme of 
1806 is reproduced as evidence. 

From 1825 to 1855 J- F- Thiodon played London and 
the provinces, advertising on his programmes: 

"Fourth Piece. — The Wonderful and Unrivalled Au- 
tomaton on the Flying Rope. The only one of this con- 
struction in the Kingdom ; and forms a more extraordinary 
Novelty from the circumstances of its not being fastened 
on the Rope by the Hands, like others hitherto exhibited. 
The Rope will be in continual Motion, and the Figure 
will sit perfectly easy and in a graceful attitude while on 
the Swing, and perform the most surprising Evolutions, 
scarcely to be distinguished from a Living Performer, 
as it moves with the utmost Correctness, without any 
apparent Machinery." 

From this overwhelming evidence it can be argued 
beyond doubt that if Robert-Houdin even constructed the 



automaton he merely copied figures presented by both 
his predecessors and his contemporaries, and he was 
fully aware of the existence of several such automata 
when he advertised his as an original invention. They 
were made by many mechanicians. 

In the illustrated appendix of the French edition of his 
"Memoirs" he goes further; he dehberately misrepre- 
sents the mechanism of the figure and insinuates that the 
automaton is a self-working one. This is not true, as it 
was worked by a concealed confederate, as described 
above by Decremps. 

Robert-Houdin even used the garlands of flowers to 
hide the moving bars as Pinetti and others of his pred- 
ecessors had done. The truth was not in him. 




WHILE Robert-Houdin claims to have invented 
''The Inexhaustible Bottle" for a special 
programme designed to create a sensation 
at the opening of his season of 1848, in 
the illustrated appendix of the original French edi- 
tion of his ''Memoirs " he states that it had its premier 
presentation December ist, 1847. These discrepancies 
occur with such frequency that it is difficult to refute 
his claims in chronological order. Perhaps he adopted 
this method intentionally, to confuse future historians of 
magic, particularly concerning his own achievements. 

In order to emphasize the brilliancy of this trick, 
Robert-Houdin turned boastful in describing it. On page 
348 of the American edition of his "Memoirs," he states 
that the trick had created such a sensation and was so 
much exploited in the London new^spapers that the fame 
of his inexhaustible bottle spread to the provinces, and 
on his appearance in Manchester with the bottle in his 
hand the workmen who made up the audience nearly 
mobbed him. In fact, the description of this scene is the 
most dramatic pen-picture in his "Memoirs." 

The truth, sad to state, is that the bottle trick did not 
create the sensation he claims -for it in London, nor did 
the press eulogize it. It was classed with other ordinary 

[176 J 


tricks, and twenty London papers bear mute testimony 
to this fact. In a complete collection of press clippings 
regarding his first London appearance, only four of the 
London papers mention the trick. The Times, the great 
conservative English paper, in reviewing Robert-Houdin's 
performance in its issue of May 3d, 1847, ignored the 
trick entirely. The four London papers which made 
mention of the bottle trick, and then only in a passing 
comment, were The Chronicle, The Globe, The Lady^s 
Newspaper, and The Court Journal. Any one acquainted 
with the two last-named periodicals will know that they 
rarely reach the haiids of the humble artisans in Man- 
chester. Punch, London's great comic paper, gave the 
trick some space, however. 

The trick of pouring several sorts of liquors from the 
same bottle has been presented in various forms and 
\mder diflferent names. To prove the futility of Robert- 
Houdin's claims I will explain the mystery of this trick, 
>vhich is of an interesting nature. 

To all intents and purposes the bottle used looks like 
glass; but it is invariably made of tin, heavily japanned. 
Ranged around the central space, which is free from 
deception, are five compartments, each tapering to a 
narrow-mouthed tube which terminates about an inch or 
an inch and a half from within the neck of the bottle. A 
small pinhole is drilled through the outer surface of the 
bottle into each compartment, the holes being so placed 
that when the bottle is grasped with the hand in the ordin- 
ary way, the performer covers all but one of the pinholes 
with his fingers and thumb. The centre section is left 
empty, but the other compartments are filled with a fun- 
12 . [177] 


nel which has a tapering nozzle made specially for this 

The trick is generally started by proving to the audience 
that the bottle is empty. It is then filled with water, whict^ 
is immediately poured out again, all this time the fiv^S 
pinholes being covered tightly with the hand or finger^^ 
which are holding the bottle. When a hquor is called for ^::^rrj 
the performer raises the finger over the air-hole abov^^ 
that particular liquor, and the liquor will flow out. Wher 
a large number of liquors may be called for, the performer" 
has one compartment filled with a perfectly colorless- 
liquor, which he pours into glasses previously flavored 
with strong essences. Certain gins and cordials can be 
simulated in this fashion. 

Various improvements have been made in this bottle 
trick. For instance, after the bottle has yielded its various 
sorts of liquors, it is broken, and from the bottle the per- 
former produces some borrowed article which has been 
^'vanished" in a previous trick and then apparently for- 
gotten. This may have been a ring, glove, or handker- 
chief, which will be discovered tied around the neck of a 
small guinea-pig or dove taken from the broken bottle. 

This is accomplished by having the bottle especially 
constructed. Its compartments end a few inches above 
the bottom of the bottle and the portion below having 
a wavy or cracked appearance, is made to slip on and off. 
The conjurer goes through the motions of actually break- 
ing the bottle by tapping it near the bottom with a small 
hammer or wand, and the appearance of the guinea-pig 
or lost article causes surprise, so that the pretended break- 
ing of the bottle passes unnoticed. 


Again, this bottle can be genuine, with no loose bottom 
at aU, and a small article can be inserted, but this makes 
a great deal of trouble, and the efifect is not greatly in- 
creased. In doing the trick thus, I was always com- 
pelled to have an optician cut the bottom from the bottle, 
and then at times even he would break it. 

To explain further how the article is "loaded" into 
the bottle, the performer borrows several articles, for 
example a ring and two watches. He will place the ring 
and watches into a funnel at the end of a large horse- 
pistol, and shoot them at the target. The two watches 
appear on the target or in a frame or any place that he 
may choose. In obtaining the articles, he may have 
wrapped them up in a handkerchief which he has hidden 
in the front of his vest. Alexander Herrmann was excep- 
tionally clever in making this exchange, his iron nerve 
and perpetual smile being great aids in the trick. 

The performer now places the duplicate handkerchief 
on the table in full view of the audience, and walks to 
another table for a gun. While reaching for this gun, he 
places the original articles which he borrowed behind 
his table on a servante, so that his hidden assistant may 
reach for them, place the two watches on the ''turn-about 
target," tie the ring on the neck of the guinea-pig, shove 
Mm into the bottle, and insert the false bottom. The 
trick is then ready in its entirety. 

The magician calls for something to use as a target, 
^rid the assistant responds with the revolving target or 
fi^a^me. When the conjurer shoots, the two watches 
^F>pear on the target or in the frame. This part of 
tlxe trick is accomplished by having the centre of the 



target revolve, or, if the frame is used, by having a black 
velvet curtain pulled up by rapid springs or strong 

While all this is going on, some one has brought on the 
stage the loaded bottle, and as no attention is called to 
this, by the time the watches have been restored to the 
owners the conjurer introduces the bottle trick, pours 
out the various liquors, and eventually breaks the bottle 
and reproduces the borrowed article tied about the neck 
of the guinea-pig or dove. 

Many names have been given to this trick. The old- 
time magicians who remained for months in one theatre 
had to change their programmes frequently, so for one 
night they would present the bottle without breaking it, 
and on the next they would break the bottle, so as to 
vary the trick. 

This bottle trick originated in "The Inexhaustible 
Barrel." The first trace that I can find of this wonder- 
ful barrel is in "Hocus Pocus, Jr., The Anatomie of 
Legerdemain," written by Henry Dean in 1635 (Second 
Edition). On page 21 is described a barrel with a single 
spout, from which can be drawn three different kinds of 
liquors. This was worked precisely on the same principle 
as was the inexhaustible bottle trick centuries, later, by 
shutting up the air-holes of compartments from which 
liquors were not flowing. 

Its first public appearance, according to the data in my 

collection, clipped from London papers of 1707 and 1712, 

was when the ^^ famous water- works of the late ingenious 

Mr. Henry Winstanly" were exhibited by his servants 

for the benefit of his widow; and the exhibition included 



a view of " the Barrel that plays so many Liquors and is 
broke in pieces before the Spectators.'' 

In 1780 Dr. Desaguliers presented in London a per- 
formance entitled "A Course of Experimental Philosophy 
wherein the Principles of Mechanics, Hydrostatics, Pneu- 
matics, and Optics are proved and demonstrated by more 
than 300 Experiments." 

In the course of these lectures he produced a sort of 
barrel, worked by holding the fingers over the air-holes. 
He also exposed the real source of strength of the notorious 
strong man of his day, JoTin Carl von Eckeberg, who 
allowed horses to pull against him, permitted heavy 
stones to be broken on his bare chest, and who broke 
heavy ropes simply by stretching or straightening his 
knees. These lectures and exposes made Dr. Desaguliers 
so famous that he has been given considerable space in 
Sir David Brewster's ^'Letters on Natural Magic," pub- 
lished in London in 1851, in which book the various de- 
ceptions used by strong men are fully described. In fact 
the book is one that should be in every conjurer's library. 

The old Dutch books explain the barrel trick, and in 
1803 Charles Hutton, professor of Woolwich Royal 
Academy, translated four books from Ozanam and 
Montucla, exposing quite a number of old conjuring 
tricks. The barrel trick will be found on page 94 of 
Volume 11. 

The first use of "The Inexhaustible Bottle" by modern 

conjurers I found in an announcement of Herr Schmidt, 

a German performer, who for a time controlled the 

original writing and drawing figure, as will be found by 

reference to Chapter III., which is devoted to the his- 



tory of that automaton. The 


•Ik MONOAT. «»?*•( 


TiS'JfcS M ****• *•**• '■^*' •• 
Sir. Schmidt's BGMEFIT, 



M the MusicHallj 

AIMon-Strcct, Leeds. 

■'mi Hi TMalM. mu uHm wa^y YMw-litew W to. iD^plrti* mm AUTOMATAIf 

■■■ 1 7 i U tit\u MMkniM. dig fcwwSririilltii ft4» hTWiSw iImmnS 


W^l*l h* •UIMm 4Mi|*tr WrtUH, MMl •■•vrr.gjTQinlioa prapoi^ to W 

7%e Duteh Coffee Ilouse^ 

Aa«ll|MlUlitoBdMta(i«>lh.Tn**U.nriii(ki« th. ImU tto dew opw-lh. Hortw. 
MiMd. mi fumitm Urn with la; Uqwr h. a.; nil for. 

tNQIB (0ii!BIISiaV (Dir Oi^VIfitf7» 

laaMrftPMMrtyafHvdtwtlpUoann h. ptuW oalh. dliwUai wf Ih. Conpuy: «• 
—toll w«l h if WH p ll bly diM^^ ft— am J^^Wt tolo laottw, or *w hatod ll>.tlMW» 

71U i^oAfe qf Sobriety and Inebriely^ 

P»w4iff *• IMIW^ of • Ml W DMUlin, wbM •MtoM LJ<|Mn«a h. rndand kf «Mu 


AayUdywOmMlMHa »«:•■(•'"'» <oMi.«w. or uTAiticlp, lock* H .p la mm Cbdd*, 

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WkM «in pmbrai luawmU. PmI.. 



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fcilai IN ONK yiitirrE, k.fcw Uw i;y. af Ik. tpie>rt.7fc 


MMMMM M Mag piM.d la i%kt of Ika Aadlmc • Tkodw Uoad •«! dMcorf •■< tok* 
ltoMlMdbNtIj.ko<r.ll| keaij^thMof L%k«idat*'.okMn.d ■Mkk^^.dova bb«i U, 
k«*aBiiUiaffkaia(pRi*l#da«k«Oaadaclorlk^prmlM*Ma.l|jUr a ikarttt^ 

^'*— — - ■ '^- ».d. Ik. Idgkl a l ag k i — ■awrtrM. .»» i -^ — - " 

li .a4I.MMiMitoiiKk«aflk.Aa«aMa. 

Tha vkala of Ika TOHkb Md U>ndli CXBIBITION af MECHANICAL m« 
inillCAL AUTOMATA •W ka aikibHid a. ■■oal.-tka Maiid Ladyi TU 
JaMrtaAfMi TkaRouoDMaari Miga H w l CkMria Tm. t Tba Migtcbat TkaWalk. 
hi ngaiat A Twaafah taMwi Aa EnypUM Uaudi TWo Mbariaa Ukai A GoUw 
■ fit A Uwiatifal Haaual^ BW i «alf.aaU^ Waao-Fatto. Aa •k8^ af tka Emrt« 


wt^AMhrtwatyaraPMaaaf Wlkkw, »Hk wwloai Eral 

A Schmidt programme of 1821, featur- 
ing the ** Bottle ofSobriety and Inebriety." 
From the Hany Houdim Collection. 


programme published in 
that chapter is dated 
1827, and does not in- 
clude the famous bottle, 
because it was no longer a 
novelty in Herr Schmidt's 
repertoire; but the ad- 
vertisement reproduced 
herewith, dated 1821, 
schedules the bottle trick 
thus: "The Bottle of 
Sobriety and Inebriety, 
proving the inutility of a 
set of decanters, when 
various liquors can be 
produced by one." Thus 
Schmidt antedated 
Houdin's offering of the 
trick by more than a 
quarter of a century. 

Next the bottle turned 
up in 1835 in London, 
where it was presented by 
a German who styled him- 
self "Falck of Koenigs- 
berg, Pupil of the 
celebrated Chevalier Pin- 
netty," and who intro- 
duced the programme 
with which Dobler made 
such a sensation in 1842. 


Mr. Falck opened at the Queen's Bazaar, Oxford 
Street, London, November 8th, 1835. Before opening, 
however, he gave a private performance for the press, 
and received quite a number of notices. A half-column 
clipping in my collection, dated November 4th, 1835, 




Of Kooigibeiv, Papil of tlie ctlebrated Chevalier Pinetty, has 
juft arriTed in jEaglamd, and will exhibit his surprising deceptions, 




Queen's Bazaar, Oxford Street. 


Tfce BaehMted Bread— The Walking Rice— Paying • Tavera 
Kaaper— The KDchaiited Egg— The Criculaiien of Money— The 
Loat Ring—The Exchange of Wine— The Enchanted Dice— The 
Card in the Pocket— The Present, or Gift of Flora— The Wine and 
DeeaertF-hesidea Surpriaing Deceptions with Cards, &c. &c. 

The Performance to begin daily al gTinlH iiiW»yy^^iM; 
•Ml at Three till half -past Four. 

Geo. Nichola, Printer. Earl's Court, Cranboum Street, Sobo. 

^^^sler used by Falck of Koenigsberff in 1835, featuring the trick of exchange 
of wine. From the Harry Houdini CoUection. 

^^^liich I think is cut from The Chronicle or The Globe^ 

^^^^entions the trick among other effects Hke ''Flora's 

^^ift," "The Card in the Pocket/' etc., and adds that 

*^lle "exchange of wine was so that if once in Mr. Falck's 

Company, we should not wish to exchange it, for he poured 



fFVttertoo RoauM, 


Splendid, Brillinnt and g— hlo— Me 








Lady H. 8tuart Forbes^ 

4v. 4r<?- &c. ()-Uj/'y^^^( 

ON WHICH ,0CCASI0N'''6IV>»'/^'^^ 

Dfoiis^ PHILIilPPE 







U CaiM« at U SmU da L'ame b triMM m a 


Mrs iBvavmmfwa a«vvaai 


wim mtmrm ^ rhowmmm, 
r%r «Kf(rMl iMUe, 


»A»* ». 


cnanasn ioii«a«aiiii. 

/y n/ix, cosTutte, 

. ]llolM^ P. takes his BBIVEFIT. 

Poster used by Phillippe during his 
Edinburgh engagement in 1838, featuring 
"The Memal Bottle." From the Harry 
Houdini Collection. 


three sorts of wine, Port, 
Sherry, and Cham- 
pagne, out of one bottle. 
Then he put them to- 
gether, and from such a 
mixture produced sher- 
ry in one glass, and port 
in another." 

From this notice it 
will be seen that Falck 
had "The Inexhaustible 
Bottle," and had some 
method of returning all 
the liquors not drunk 
back into the bottle 
and then pouring out 
two different kinds of 

Perhaps he resorted 
to chemicals, but one 
thing is evident — the 
bottle was used for six 
different kinds of liquors 
at one and the same 

Phillippe from 1836 to 
1838 featured "An In- 
femalBottle" trick, also 
"The Inexhaustible 
Bottle "trick. The trick 
also was seen on pro- 


grammes used by John Henry Anderson, the Wizard 
of the North, in the same years. According to these 
programmes PhiUippe and Anderson showed the bottle 
empty, filled it with water, and then served five different 

On April 30th, 1838, Anderson thus announced the 
trick on a programme used at Victoria Rooms, Hull: 

"Handkerchiefs will be borrowed from three gentle- 
men; the magician will load his mystic gun, in which 
he will place the handkerchiefs; he will fire a bottle con- 
taining wine, the bottle will be .broken and the handker- 
chiefs will appear." 

Programmes in my collection show that Anderson pre- 
sented the trick, serving various sorts of liquors, when he 
played London in 1840, but little attention was drawn to 
the wonderful bottle. In 1842 Ludwig Dobler, Germany's 
best-beloved magician, came to London and featured 
what he termed "The Travelling Bottle." 

Ludwig Leopold Dobler was bom in Vienna in 1801. He 
was the best-beloved magician who ever trod the stage. He 
started life as an engraver of metals, but his fancy turned 
to necromancy. He gave his best performances in his na- 
tive city. In 1841 he was touring Holland, and in a letter 
now in my possession, which he wrote to a director and 
editor in Vienna under date of March 15th, 1842, he in- 
forms his friend that he has sent all his baggage to London 
from Amsterdam, and is on a visit to Paris. He regrets 
that he has not all of his apparatus with him, but has 
given several performances, and mentions the fact that 
'"to-morrow I am engaged to give a performance in the 
private parlor of Rothschild and then by the Count 





Reproduction of a political cartoon in Punch, published durine Anderson's 
London engagement, April, 1843, proving that the Inexhaustible Bottle Trick" 
was used by Anderson before Robert-Houdin was a professional entertainer.' 
From the Harry Houdini Collection. 



ntaliset, minister of the King's mansions." He also 
►rms his friend that he expects to visit Paris the next 
>on and build his own theatre. He states a fact most 
resting to all magicians, namely, that he has rented 

Aidwig DObler in his prime, taken about 1839. The original of this rare 
xe was discovered by the author in a small print shop in Moscow, Russia, 
now a part of his Collection. 

St. James Theatre in London for two thousand 
ics ($400) a night, or more than $2,400 rent for one 
:k. Dobler drew such big audiences and made so 
ch money that he refused to give private perfomances, 



only breaking this rule when presenting his show before 
H. M. Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort. 

He played the provinces, then went over to Dublin, 
where, although unable to speak English, he was a ver- 
itable sensation. In 1844 


BMB ■*■■■*. flV. J AM— F> ' 





I ■mrr T«i 


Dobler played a return 
date at the St. James 
Theatre, London, and 
this time he hjad Ander- 
son as a rival at the The- 
atre Royal Adelphia. 

Dobler amassed a for- 
tune very rapidly; in fact 
he retired in 1847, ^^^ 
never again appeared on 
the stage. He always ex- 
plained his early retire- 
ment by saying: "The 
public loves me, and I 
want it to always love me. 
I may return and be a 
failure, so it is best to 
know just when to stop." 
He died in a little village 
near Tunitz, on April 
17th, 1864, when one of God's noblemen was laid to rest. 
"The Travelling Bottle" alluded to by Dobler in his 
programmes was nothing more or less than "The Inex- 
haustible Bottle." The following excerpt from the 
London Chronicle during Dobler's engagement at the 
St. James Theatre, April, 1842, is illuminating: 


■mm.^«» Wt, Si. CMtavy Miato. to. M. 

I, (TAUA arf TICIUCTt a^ k. w 

r. nORIIirs Uknry. Et nnf tr «B l i 
- T. ■*■ ' — ' 

A Dobler programme from the Eva- 
nion collection, dated 1842, now in the 
possession of the author. 


"DObler — St. James Theatre. — ^Among the illusions 
that more particularly struck our fancy was one entitled 
'The Travelling Bottle,' where Herr Dobler, filKng a 
common bottle with water, transformed this water into 
a collection of wines of all countries, amicably assembled 

,<i(ifti— ill \h'mm4^^ bm, qtewfw ttwil 

;Mr I« — iww MmAml mUccMi 
.jki «M» wm« ^jwifl (c«e|tc( 

9Ii«iMiib Sr«(fi bo* W«r jfl^i^cC 

X bw 4KMI ^ bncd^ecfo^v*^ 

^cn bu6 WM^ 2«6t «i»6r Att^. 
9i» b» b«iiM^tm)l U%fL1^i>^v, 

DftUer's farewell programme in verse, used when he played his last engage- 
n^cnt in the Josephstadter Theatre, Vienna. Original given by Dftbler per- 
sonally to HemyEvanion; now in the Harry Houdini Collection. 




Ludwig D5bler in his prime, offering his most popular trick, "The Creation 
of Flowers." From a rare lithograph in the Harry Houdini CoUection. 



together in one receptacle, and he fills out first a glass 
of sherry, then one of port, then one of champagne, and 
so on." 

The critic then describes how the bottle was broken, and 
the borrowed handkerchief was found inside the bottle. 

Probably because of the prominence which Herr Do- 



1^ mw \w um mj ■> mm 
•* .NAIL HAL ' 


l!)OUer programme with illustrations of his tricks, used during his engagement 
at the St James Theatre, London. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 

bier gave to this trick it attracted more attention when 
Anderson presented it during his London run of 1843. 
He announced it as "Water vs. Wine, or Changing Water 



into Different Liquids — Sherry, 


fTfin W TWw h — f>««M««l EaWMtl— wHk tkm» tmim 




•«., is M« CM(t«u Teapit rfExImilft. Wton 


•Mmi of Miglity Words and Uttlo DeedsP 

Wb» «Wm tiM Mi* r|M !• tht mm* •! WIZAM). trr ia mia u c«if Iim iW wtMtt 
llMir fmta*wl~TlMy awjr will wriih* mtn U* txpowr* •( iWir nUB VUSIT 
nriTBII, ky fUth ll>*r •Mk U obuiau toditMr, «UI* iWJail; laMmwarat •TOIV 
nUOKt iwfcr mW IVAHM •hew tb« .MU I* wkUk 1W7 ■!• 4iirra r Thty kM 
lniaf4t>ik«ircMl, Ikat 

« f wh tisfc li witre Aigtla ft«r to itfj." 


liiumlnate the Interior of the Theatre 


grfysfBvs disappearance 




Orfv or HAOALLItTBm'S 



VbaoalymulBtiMworM that Ma 
r »▼• Undt oTUqMT 


Angut 11, U52 

. Jn W glvMiik* «|ntatlM oTtto 


Programme used by Macallister at the 
Bowery Theatre, August 11th, 1852, during 
his second engagement in New York City. 
Featuring the "Magic Bottle "from whicn 
twenty-two kinds of liquor could be 
drawn. Careful reading will unearth 
Macallister*s ill-will toward Anderson. 
From Uie Harry Houdini Collection. 


Port, Champagne, Gin, 
Milk, Rum, and Water." 

The London Sun of 
April i8th, 1843, says: 

"Mr. Anderson, be- 
sides the feats by which 
his reputation was es- 
tablished in his former 
exhibitions in the metro- 
polis, performed with per- 
fect ease and success 
some of greater difficulty 
than those by which Herr 
Dobler astonished the 
world, such as serving 
several kinds of wines 
from the same bottle." 

The Morning Adver- 
tiser (London) of the 
same date said: 

"With the utmost ease 
he produced from an 
empty bottle wine, water, 
port, sherry, and cham- 
pagne, and immediately 
afterward, under a blaze 
of wax and gas, he broke 
the same bottle and pro- 
duced from it half a 
dozen cambric handker- 
chiefs, which had pre- 


viously been deposited under lock and key at a consider- 
able distance." 

Macallister, the Scotch brick-mason, who became the 
pupil and assistant of Phillippe, as described in the 
chapter on "The Pastry Cook of the Palais Royal," also 

Andrew Macallister as he appeared during his engagement in the United States. 
From tne Harry Houdini Collection. 

claimed the bottle trick as his invention. I have been 
unable to obtain any of the early programmes used by 
Macallister, but I am reproducing the one he utilized 
dxuing his engagement at the Bowery Theatre, New 
York City, in 1852. This was not his first appearance in 
'3 [ 193 ] 

The original Compars Herrmaim, who was Robert-Houdin's very active 
rival during the latter s first engagement in London. Best portrait now in 
existence, and only one showing Herrmann in his prime. Originidphotograph 
loaned for this work by James L. Keman. of Baltimore, Md., U. S. A. 


New York, however. In December, 1848, and January, 
1849, he played at the same theatre, and announced that 
he had just concluded a successful engagement at the 
Grand Theatre Tacon, Havana, Cuba. 

Although Macallister claims to have invented "The 
Inexhaustible Bottle" trick, it is more Hkely that, having 
been connected so long with Phillippe, he knew the secret 
several years before Robert-Houdin appeared in public. 
But as MacaUister also claimed to have invented the 
peacock and the harlequin automata, both of which are 
recognized as the inventions of his predecessors, his claim 
cannot be given serious consideration. 

He advertised to produce twenty-two kinds of liquors 
from one bottle, and therefore he must have utilized the 
essence glasses in connection with the bottle. 

What must have been Robert-Houdin's feeling when, 
on arriving in London in 1848, he found another magician, 
CompaTS Herrmann, heavily advertised at the Theatre 
Royaly and already offering each and every trick included 
by the Frenchman in his repertoire. Even the much- 
vaunted bottle was in Herrmann's Hst of tricks. No one 
seems able to tell where Compars Herrmann obtained 
the tricks he used, but he must be given credit for never 
advertising them as his own inventions. His record in 
this respect was clean throughout his life as a mysterious 

The programme presented by Herrmann at the Theatre 
Royal during Robert-Houdin's opening week at the St. 
James Theatre is herewith reproduced. Herrmann re- 
mained some time in London, playing at the Adelphia, 
then at the Royal Princess, and finally at the Surrey 


Theatre. A bill used by Herrmann at the Princess is 

reproduced on page 232. It evidently proved satisf actor}' to 

the public and he used it without change for many years. 

Probably the most notable warfare waged over the 

WgAt— — T*l> 








OMMBcaeiag at Two e'Oleek. 


SATURDAY, May Oth, 1949, 

riBBT PBontnoB or HAaio im tbb woblo, 


JRforntag Ferformancet 

rrvvlM* !• nil «f>parlare M Ike provlaec*. »■« will hiU«<ae« 

Six New Extraordinary Tricks. 

amirBA Bsronii bxbibivbs i 

VMtnm llM..frM; TIM ■■wrarlM Albaia. 

Lm M/iim. «i p.ra : VIM My itwtH ar Parte. 


Or, SeeaiMf J5i^M« 




« •nnwdiawy p*wtra af 

okJecK that mny be iHbaiiMaA 

n uiTiTisi Bi luim — 

BUling used by Compars Herrmann when he plaved in opposition to Robert- 
Houdin on the latter's arrival in Ix)ndon. This shows that Hemnann dupli- 
cated all of Robert-Houdin's tricks. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 



honor of having invented this trick arose between Robert- 
Houdin and Henri Robin, who were contemporaries. 

Robin, whose right name was Dunkell, was of Holland 
birth and died in Paris in 1874. He was at his prime 


ISTeBtac. mmAm9» April W^Ou 

u BorntLU nnranAKLBs 


mgtkUt ts::^^: 


Aprti mmth -wmm wmi, m»s»» 


8 V ■ TIB a ». 

N^w mm* aimriUm^ Miimwi^mwr 

WM^>»ltHIIBMrlM Mlllllllnawrt»M>Mli«>— ^,^ 








n mriTioi oi tiiibds iim 


, BoxM am. Pit 8«. «Bllerle> % 
•«eoa« Prl«« at Wlae o>loek. 

A Herrmann programme dated April, 1848, showing that Herrmann pre- 
sented the inexhaustible bottle two months before Robert-IIoudin appeared 
in London. 



about 1839-40, when he toured the Continent. He was 
popular in London, Paris, and both the English and French 
provinces. A polished man, famous for the elegance of 
his speech and manners, he conducted his performance 

Henri Robin, generally conceded to have been the most polished^ conjurer 
in the history of magic. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 

and all his business in a quiet, conservative fashion. In 
both Paris and London, he had playhouses named tem- 
porarily in his honor, Salle de Robin, and at one time in 



London he also appeared at the Egyptian Hall. He 
published his own magazine, U Almanack d'Cagliostro, 
an illustrated periodical which was quite pretentious. 

Robin presented all the tricks and automata that 
Robert-Houdin claimed as his original inventions, and in 
the famous controversy, Robert-Houdin came out second 
best. Robin proved that he had used the bottle trick 
before Robert-Houdin did, by showing back numbers of 
his magazine, whose illustrations pictured Robin perform- 
ing the trick at his theatre in Milan, Italy, July 6th, 1844, 
or three years before Robert-Houdin presented it in Paris. 

Robin, however, never wrote an autobiography nor 
any exhaustive work dealing with the history of magic, 
while Robert-Houdin did. The latter set forth his claims 
over other magicians so skilfully that for more than half 
a century the intelligent and thoughtful reading public 
has been deceived and has accepted his statements as 
authoritative. According to an article published in 
L'lllusionniste, scientists to this day, in explaining the 
law of physics as operated by the use of air-holes in the 
inexhaustible bottle, refer to it as the "Robert-Houdin 
bottle," when in reahty the honor of its invention belongs 
to some obscure mechanic or magician whose name must 
remain forever unsung by writers on magic. 




EVIDENTLY second sight was the foundation- 
stone of Robert-Houdin's success. Reading be- 
tween the Hnes of his autobiography, one finds 
that this was the trick which carried him into the 
salons of fashion and royalty. Before he introduced 
second sight into his repertoire, his tricks were so com- 
monplace that they did not arouse the interest of the court 
circle, whose approval furnished the seal of success. 

This trick of second sight he claims body and soul, 
as the favorite child of his brain. He even goes as far 
as to relate a story to prove that the trick came to him 
in the form of an inspiration. I quote directly from the 
American edition of his "Memoirs," page 255: 

"My two children were playing one day in the drawing- 
room at a game they had invented for their own amuse- 
ment; the younger had bandaged his elder brother's eyes 
and made him guess the objects that he touched, and 
when the latter happened to guess right they changed 
places. This simple game suggested to me the most 
complicated idea that ever crossed my mind. Pursued 
by the notion, I ran and shut myself in my workshop, 
and was fortunately in that happy state when the mind 
follows easily the combinations traced by fancy. I rested 
my head in my hands, and in my excitement laid down 

the first principles of second sight.'' 

[ 200 ] 


Then, picking up the long idle quill of Baron Mun- 
chausen, he proceeds to explain the methods by which he 
perfected the trick and trained his son. To the layman 
these methods read most entertainingly. To the expe- 
rienced conjurer or his humblest assistant they appeal 
as absurd and impossible, a sheer waste of time, of which 

ft if || 

Robeit-Houdin and his son Emile, presenting second sight. Here the 
bell is used as it was by Henri Robin. From an illustration in the original 
French edition of the Robeit-Houdin "Memoirs." 

a man who reproduced the tricks of his predecessors as 

rapidly as RobertrHoudin did, would not be guilty. 

He claims to have trained the eye and memory of his 

son, by leading the latter past shop windows, and after 

allowing him one glance, demanding the names of articles 

seen at this single glance. When the boy could mention 

forty things after passing the window, his education was 

pronounced good. Robert-Houdin also tells in his 



"Memoirs" of spending hours with his son in poring 
over an enormous collection of coins, medals, etc., which 
severe lesson helped them both in future performances. 
To the conjurer, this tale is farcical. Not only was there 
no need of forcing the boy to become a coin expert, but 
the task was one which could not be accomplished in the 
brief time which Robert-Houdin allowed himself for 
perfecting the trick. 

The only knowledge required about coins is to recognize 
a coin when you see it. Some one may hand a coin of 
peculiar stamp, and the operator must signal to his medium 
the metal and all he knows about it. Of course, if both 
know the various coins, then they can understand each 
other with less signaling than if the coins were unfamiliar 
to either. 

Inaudi, the French calculator, can look at a blackboard 
filled with numbers for a few seconds, then turn his back 
upon them and add the entire amount that he has just 
seen and memorized. But let the reader understand that 
Inaudi is peculiarly gifted by nature, while second sight 
is a trick in which the person on the stage known as 
the medium is assisted by words, signs, prearranged 
movements, or articles or figures in rotation, which to 
the layman have the appearance of being unprepared. 
At a familiar cue, however, the operator touches articles 
that have been memorized, a ring, a watch, a scarf-pin, 
a lady's fan, an opera glass, all in rotation. At a snap 
of the fingers the medium will know that the articles are 
to be named in consecutive order, and only after the snap 
of the fingers or another cue agreed upon. 

Robert-Houdin presented the trick for the first time 







These elegant and oiiginal Performances will be 
given at i& above Theatre 

svsaiv SVSaHBTQo 

ftwmwotitt at 8 o'HU^ 



Ob Mdi e«M 


BMBtSt iBVMttcd and pwlbtflMcl 

TIm CaULitie dock 
Tlw ObadieBt Dov« 
TIm Fuw and Caoooo Bail* 

TIm PlttinM of FeatUn 
ThaBadtetor.Floweta * 
Iba Manndlolu Onnga l*!**' 

Lea eveataib et lea boukU de 

L« corbeiUe de Flom 


Programme used by Robert Heller in 1851-52, when he was about e 
years of age. Probably the only programme of this date in existence, 
m the Harry Houdini Collection. 

[20^ A 


at his own theatre, February 12th, 1846. Unquestionably 
at this time he employed the speaking code, wherein the 
answer is contained in the question asked of the medium 
by the performer. As he describes scene after scene in 
which he and his son participated, it is almost possible 
for a conjurer or any one interested in magic to follow 
his code. Apparently the amusement-loving public be- 
came familiar with his speaking code, for three years 
la,ter, according to the illustrated appendix of the French 
edition of his "Memoirs," he adopted a code of signals, 
"^hich he states was especially arranged to confuse those 
"Whom he terms his "fearless discoverers.'' 

A mysterious bell was used in this connection, but he 
admits that it mattered not whether the bell struck or 
\vas silent, his son could name the object under consid- 
eration or answer the question. While Robert-Houdin 
asserts that he did not employ electricity for working his 
silent code, investigations make it almost certain that this 
was the method used. It is known throughout the world of 
conjuring that in 1850-51 Robert Heller (William Henry 
Palmer) reproduced Robert-Houdin's entire repertoire of 
tricks, with the exception of the suspension, and all 
worked precisely by Robert-Houdin's methods. In the 
second-sight trick, which he first presented with a young 
man as the medium, then later with Miss Haidee Heller, 
the medium was seated on a sofa fully equipped with wires 
and electric batteries. Heller's second sight was worked 
with both the speaking and silent codes. His confederate 
was concealed behind the scenes watching Heller through 
a peep-hole, or possibly he used another, seated in the au- 
dience, and had the wires strung under his chair, arranging 







365th Performance in New York, 

VBriH • «u*«r « M«Ma vUA m o«ktr Oo^fttr bM tl My !!■% MMafliiM (• tttt tiiy^ 

S>A.ZiT X.-aiCA.OZO. 



irONDER IIf,.i.IIfVWW*fe-MM4-«mB-*«l«brct«H Piitent Medicine Wan- 
hottM in the AWAcrlood 

WONDER IV THE. WITCHES' POLE, irith «n(^liu: dcvelopmentii in 


WONDER V ANIBIATED DOLLARS; with Life imd Intellegence MMifested 



Ma I GRAND FANTASIA on Aira (Who the "Sonnambula" of Titelberg, 

performed by ROBERT HELLER, on Steinway's Ofand Pienoforte. 

Mo. 3 Ma HH.Ln'8 Laughable Deacnption the Piano^ractice of a Boarding 

School Young Ladjr.x-IUmtnUed. The Young Lady by Robert Heller. 

syuRT zzx.»2iA-sraTsxi'sr. 


iPJLBSC xv»-x»T»xaitjaTio«r. 

.o«iyrt«mn the Tricki^but l-v^W/^Vho* todj tW to thOttay 
may BO and eUrtoat MdN^arera for themMlveaaai aohif ve •■ grant n 
fortuM M hH fidlen to the lot of Bobut, iIbabi.. 

Poster used by Robert Heller during his Boston engagement in 1853. From 

the Harry Houdini Collection. 



the signal button so that it could be easily reached on the 
arm or front part of the seat. The receiving instrument 
was attached to the sofa on which the medium was 
seated. The latter would be silently informed as to what 
was being shown and would answer all questions. As 
proof that these statements are not mere hearsay, the 
Heller sofa can now be seen in the possession of Mr. 
Francis J. Martinka, of New York; and Dr. W. Golden 
Mortimer, who once presented '^ Mortimer's Mysteries," 
a show on the style of Heller's performance, furnishes 
the information that when Heller died in Philadelphia, 
November 28th, 1878, he engaged the dead magician's 
chief assistant, an expert electrician named E. J. Dale, 
who had acted as secret confederate, assisting the medium. 

After travelling with Mortimer some time. Dale eventu- 
ally returned to England, and retired from the profession. 
He opened a large shop in London under the firm name 
of H. & E. J. Dale, Manufacturing Electricians, 4 Little 
Britain, E.G.,. in October, 1882. 

It was the easiest thing imaginable for Robert-Houdin 
to have his theatre arranged with secret confederates 
and wires back of the scenes, where a man with powerful 
opera-glasses could stand. The place being small, he 
could look all over the room and see the minutest article. 

When not making use of the talking codej the simplest 
method employed by second-sight artists is to have a con- 
federate in the audience, with either an electrical push but- 
ton or a pneumatic bulb, who gives the medium the signal. 
This is received by a miniature piston, which requires 
only a small hole in the stage, while the medium has a 
matching hole in the sole of his shoe. This allows the 

[ 207 ] 


piston to touch the sole of the foot whenever the con- 
federate presses the bulb or pushes the button. 

From this array of facts it will be seen that second sight 
is and always has been a matter of well-drilled phrases 
or signals, prearranged rotation of articles, well-built 


1 1 



>^^ 1 





yr- j^ 






The author at the long-neglected grave of Robert Heller, in Mt. Moriah 
Cemetery, Philadelphia, IL S. A. From a photograph in the Harry Houdini 

apparatus or well-trained confederates, but never a feat 
of actual thought-transferrence. 

Some of Robert-Houdin's ardent supporters insist that 
in claiming the invention or discovery of second sight, 
the French conjurer was merely an unconscious plagiarist, 



having stumbled upon, quite by accident, a trick which 
he did not know that others had offered before him. 

Such a statement is illogical and absurd. Books of 
magic to which Robert-Houdin had access and which 
he admits having read describe the trick in a more or 
less crude form. Pinetti, whose tricks were fully described 
to Robert-Houdin by his old friend Torrini, used the 
second-sight mystification with excellent effect. Robert- 
Houdin could not have been ignorant of its existence as 
a trick. In making the claim to its discovery in his" 
** Memoirs" he simply trusted to the ignorance of the 
reading public in the history of magic. 

According to programmes and newspaper clippings in 
my collection, Philip Breslaw was the first conjurer to feat- 
ure second sight in his performance. Breslaw was a clever 
German who so established himself in the hearts of 
amusement-loving Englishmen that he remained in 
England for forty years, dying in Liverpool in 1803. I^ 
1 781, while pla)dng at Greenwood's Rooms, Haymarket, 
London, he announced as Part One of his entertainment : 

"Mr. Breslaw will exhibit his new magical deceptions. 
Letters, Medals, Dice, Pocket pieces, Rings, etc., etc., 
and particularly communicate the thoughts of any person 
to another without the assistance of speech or wTiting." 

Pinetti comes next as an eminent presenter of second 
sight. Between these two well-known conjurers there 
may have been various unimportant, unchronicled per- 
formers who made use of Breslaw's trick, but they have 
no place in the history of magic. 

The trick appeared on a Pinetti programme at the 
Royal Haymarket, London, England, December ist, 1784, 
14 '[209] 


almost sixty-two years before Robert-Houdin presented 
it as his original invention. 
The London Morning Post and Daily Advertiser of 

H A V . M A R K EtS, 

ftv PERMISSION of the LORD CHA>:^l9JUtt.Aiy, 
' Signor and Signbra I> I N E T T I ^ s 
Moft gram*^ aftonifhinK inxl mimrfiWc 

N E W E X H I^ I: T I O N. 

AT tlic Theatre- Royal, in thcHaY-Maiket, 
TO-MORROW, l>ccmlRr i, 
S >cuor PINETri, Knij^iit of the Ordf r of Merit of St, 
Fhiiip, &v. ^c. \%-ith all due deference i^nfurms tuc pubiick. 
tWat be U yud returned from Windier, and that he wtii, by 
tlic above pcmiiflion, open again this Theatre on Thurfday 
litxt, and with his Coiuoit, wilVexhtbit moft wonderful, 
Atipendi:vs, and abfoluiely ininutabte, nic*chanica(, phyfical 
and phiU^fophieal pieces, tvhicUhbt rciviu deep fcnitiny ^ 
thofc fcicnces, and :iiriJuous rxerti^ni have t^d^hlcd fiini to 
in^hnt and conftruft ^ amonjj whjch Siguora Ptnvtti v,iU 
Irave the l|>ei'iiil honour and l.vtisfacSion of exhibiting; varl- 
ttjs experiments of new d'rfcovcry, tid lefs curious than 
focmingly invretiihlc, pafticnlarly th»t nf her heinj; feated 
(n one of the front boxes yrith an h^aclkerchicf over h&i 
vye)(,and gucr%at cvery^ thiitg imagintd andpropc|fedfft 
Kcr> by any piTfon iq the eotupuny . [. * 

" Signur Pinetti Lcing moft aoxrous and ambitiouut of r.c- 
ireiving t)ie countenance and An^ion of this great and dil- 
terinniE: nation, ia^;hia cndcvroprs it fhiitl b& hjs conftaCit 
l^udy itin to find otjT mean;' w^'ch m^y enable hun t«( ore- 
teut, at inteafals/moU cafiovi% iNirpriJing. and io.firellifif 
ori^nal pieect before the )uiUUck during his ihort &\y ia 
Uvrkittgdiom V n^er c^pf'Mfi^ but.r^ prodiKinjg[ Mf 
vrYvxt H^r 1^ own invdition and diArovvy, «iid^ m the 
tliTplay •f which pieces having ^ea JMaotticd w)tb a 

written teilimony of h» Brtuank t4ajcfty*s m 
1^S°^d witW hi* own him^ (beride«'betog''{>oflcued oJLcqitii- 
Scales of fht like nitore from fcvcral other Spvcrei^r)' 
bismbiy bones »ii4iolicitsior the cobtmuance'of that p;f^ 
tr>ina^ttaa<!oeouragrment« 'v^hlie moft gratefully t^- 
aLHomfdgtsto have already rpimpartUUyrt^oxpply ex«* 
yrrxenced from the Britiih nation. ,. 
. His cxcelieilt and bumoiirous ii)'ta;preter wHl tbntinue 
tritb him during his /lay. 

fipxes s*^ ^>( 3*« ri^ Cal. «a. Upper Gal. xk 

li^QCsi'or the boxes to be takev of Mr. Rice at tht Tht atit. 

Doors o))cn at Six, and Ixrgin at S«veti. 

Clipping: from the London Post, December 1st, 1784, in which Pinetti 
featured second sight. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 

December ist, 1784, contains the above advertisement: 

reproduced from my collection. 



The talking code employed by Pinetti was not original 
with him, as it dates back to the automaton worked by a 
concealed confederate who controlled the piston for the 
mechanical figure or pulled the strings to manipulate the 
dancing coins or moving head. It was novel only in its 
application to the supposed thought-transferrence by a 
human being instead of an automaton. 

This code is described by various reliable authors. 
On page 388, Volume III. of Hooper's "Recreations," 
edition 1782, it is stated that the confederate worked the 
apparatus from another room. "By certain words, previ- 
ously agreed on, make it known to the confederate," is 
the advice given to would-be conjurers. 

Beckman in his "History of Inventions" relates that 
he knew an exhibitor of a "talking figure" whose con- 
cealed confederate was cued to answer certain questions, 
the answers being given in the manner of putting the 
question, also by different signs. These instructions will 
be found on page 311 of Volume II., edition of 181 7. 

Decremps undertook to expose Pinetti's method of 
working the second-sight trick in his famous book, but in 
this attempt he scored one of the few failures which 
marked the bitter fight he waged against Pinetti. In his 
book "La Magie Blanche Devoilee" (White Magic 
Exposed), first edition, 1784, he offers on page 40 "Les 
Cartes d6vin6es, les yeux bandes" (The Divination of 
Cards with the Eyes Blindfolded). In this feat Decremps 
explains that Pinetti would allow cards to be drawn, then 
a lady (Signora Pinetti) would appear on the stage, would 
be blindfolded, and would name all the cards that were 
drawn. Decremps explains the prearranged pack of 


Reproduction of front and back of original handbill distributed on London 
streets in 1831, to advertise Master M*Kean. From the Harry Houdini 



cards for this trick, also outlining the manner of giving 
the medium the cue for certain phrases. For instance, 
while explaining to the audience that he will not speak at 
all, in the very sentences addressed to the spectators he 
informs the medium which cards have been selected. 

Pinetti's code must have been clever, as Decremps 
was unable to explain the entire second-sight act. He has ' 
omitted the principal part of the mystification, that is, 
naming the articles held up for the performer to see. 

That the card trick was only one test of his second-sight 
performance, and that Pinetti's medium did not retire 
after naming the cards, are facts shown by the following 
clipping from one of his announcements: 

"Signora Pinetti will have the special honor and satis- 
faction of exhibiting various experiments of new discovery, 
no less curious than seemingly incredible, particularly 
that of her being seated in one of the front boxes with 
an handkerchief over her eyes, and guess at everything 
imagined and proposed to her by any person in the 

Third on the list of second-sight performers, according 
to the data in my collection, was Louis Gordon M^Kean, 
who created a sensation at the Egyptian Hall Bazaar, 
Piccadilly, London, in 1 831, or fifteen years before Robert- 
Houdin, according to his claims, "discovered" second 
sight. Young M^Kean was featured as possessing dou- 
ble, not second, sight, and one of his bills is reproduced 
on page 212. 

Another programme in my collection, dated the Theatre 
Scarboro, Friday evening, August 4th, 1837, announces 
"For a limited engagement of three nights the Three 



Talented Highlanders and most extraordinary Second- 
Sighted Young Highlanders." 

These lads, I believe, were three brothers, one the 
original M^Kean, or the latter working in conjunction 
with two other boys trained to the tricks in order to 
secure more impressive results. The trio appeared 

Decoration on the broadside used to advertise a young Dutchwoman who 
created a sensation in the early part of the eighteenth century. From the 
Harry Houdini Collection. 

eight years before Robc^t-Houdin became a professional 

Holland also contributed a successful performer of 
second-sight tricks, the medium in this case being a 
Dutchwoman who created a profound sensation while 



touring Germany in the eariy part of the eighteenth 
centur}\ The biUing used at the yeariy fairs is an 
enormous poster which would be uninteUigible if reduced 
to a size suitable for reproduction. 
It is now a part of my collection and reads as follows: 
^'The Holland Maid, Twenty Years of Age, from Am- 
sterdam, whose powers, both in her residence there and 
in all other places to which she has gone, have excited 



ty ^e peenlitr MqnirtiBent^ snd fiusoltie* of this highljr Talented 
L«dy an dmwt beyoad the reach of deacription. fiy aome unknovo 

'''extraordinary ENDOVMNT 

Sye ia enable 1 to dedare the names of articles produced by the company* 
alOMmgh ntling at a disunee of bO to 60 feet, with her face turned from 
the andieneel She will also divine the whinpered wish ot any one, 
althoogh aatiaAwtorily cot of hearing. She will also, describe the dreas, 
orMiliKnt»» fte. of any iudiTidual who may wish it, with an accuracy 
tn4y avrpffiaangs upon a eard being selected from a pack, she will 
dedaw Ua name ; bat as the performance Taries and depends in a great 
facMnre on th« plraanre of the company, no regnhir routine can be sped- 
led, bat of this the company may rest assured that every consistent 
Hiort wUl be naed to gratify apd afford them aatisfactton. 

Reproduction of original billing matter used by the mysterious lady who 
offer^ second sight in the United States in 1841-42-43. From the Ilarry 
Houdini Collection. 

great astonishment and much applause, and she will 
also in this place endeavor to obtain the same tribute 
of public applause. She will after the exhibition place 
herself before the eyes of all the spectators on the outside 
and gravely stand thereon and at all times give an answer 
of assurance to any one present to whom her judgment in 
all questions gives the most accurate response. She con- 
trives also by her acuteness to discover and reply to the 



least thought, not until then explored. She guesses the 
age of every one, whether they be married or not ; how- 
many children they have, of what sex, and whether they 
be living or dead at the present time, etc. She does the 
like for any one having a chance in the lottery, as to what 
is its number, and what will be its share of gains. She 


Reproduction of the cut used on the mysterious lady's handbills, distributed in 
America in 1841. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 

also guesses at every one of the most different sorts of 

coin, and even at the year with which they were stamped. 

She guesses at every number which any one shall secretly 

set down, even though it amount to upward a million. 

She moreover tells exactly whether any one be in the 



Army, under how many Monarchs he has served, in how 
many battles he has been engaged, and whether he has 
ever been wounded and how many wounds he has received. 
By throwing the Dice, she will every time exactly tell the 
very number of spots which may have been determined 

This wordy announcement is signed by W. Sahm, of 

In my collection there is also an interesting handbill ad- 
vertising the tour of "The Mysterious Lady" who offered 
second-sight tricks in the eastern part of the United States 
in 1842-43. Her name was never stated on the programmes, 
but the latter, together with a clipping dated Boston, 
February 20th, 1843, will suffice to prove my claim that 
she was offering second-sight before Robert-Houdin did, 
and therefore could not be copying his trick. She also 
appeared in England fully a year before Robert-Houdin 
"discovered" second sight. 

Henri Robin and his wife featured second sight in 
Italy just when Robert-Houdin first offered it in Paris. 
It is barely possible that they antedated Robert-Houdin 
in the production of this trick, for I have in my collection 
a brochure entitled "Album des Soirees de M. et Mme. 
Robin," which contains an engraving of the couple offer- 
ing second-sight, a short poem in honor of Mme. Robin's 
remarkable gifts as a second-sight artist, and a poem 
generally eulogistic of M. Robin's talents dated distinctly 
February 7th, 1846. Robert-Houdin presented second- 
sight for the first time, according to his own "Memoirs," 
on February 12th, 1846. 

To prove the utter folly of Robert-Houdin's claims to 



1 m : 




^ . 

(5 "S.S 

«4j 2 







having trained his son's eye and memory by patient effort 
so as to have a mutual transferrence of thought, I will 
next show that animals had been trained for years to do 
tricks by secret signals before the alleged "discovery" of 
second sight. 

Two rare old bills in my collection advertise the mar- 
vellous "mind-reading" performances of a goose and a 
blindfolded dog respectively. The first, dated 1789, 
Announces that a Mr. Beckett, a trunk-maker of No. 31 
Ilaymarket, is exhibiting "a Learned Goose, just lately 
Arrived from abroad. 

"It performs the following tricks: performing upon 
cards, money, and watches, telling the time of the month, 
year, and date, also the value of any piece either English 
or foreign, distinguishing all sorts of colors and (most 
prodigiously and certainly unbelieving to those who know 
the intellects of a goose) she tells the number of ladies 
and gentlemen in the company or any person's thoughts; 
any lady or gentleman drawing a card out of the pack, 
though ever so secret, the Goose, blindfolded at the same 
time, will find out the card they drew. Admittance two 
shillings each person." 

The second bill features Don Carlo, the Double- 
Sighted dog, which gave an exhibition of his mysterious 
skill at the Pavillion by special command, before King 
William and the royal family on December 17th, 1831. 
This dog was blindfolded and could present almost in 
duplicate the second-sight tests offered by the Highland 
lad who five days later gave a similar exhibition before 
the royal family at the same place. 
This proof regarding the use of animals as "mediums" 

r «^^i 


is offered not to belittle the human mediums, but to prove 
that from start to finish, from the day that Breslaw 
offered the trick to the present moment, when a number 

Tw the Public m generaij and thofc uf reaJ K-nowhige 

- ■"■ ' L hi?i^f*rj isf liiiT FrATMrA^& CnJ **io»» 
i Winynr^l lAom-ltiim l^ifrtin^, p( 


Ub4, ftrtrrt In^ftS.) rhitllpTT'^li StkfJ ^i h1f^f*\t^ 



<f CV«A 


A^^^ ff^ivkf Ihdib 

^t.- ,^ 


^iir^ifBjJAl j tie i.:ru finjc 4^11 ^pi jmi the C^'j^J 1h^ Jri«^ 

Rare poster announcing the performance of the learned ^pose, one of the 
first of the second-sight anunal artists. Traced from the origmal poster in the 
British Musemn by the author. 

of skilful so-called mind-readers still mystify the public, 

some sort of speaking or signal code has been used. Rob- 



ert-Houdin used both the speaking and the signal code, 
but so did Breslaw, and all evidence points to the fact 
that Robert-Houdin merely improved upon the trick em- 
ployed by Breslaw, 

Pinetti, and others THE DOUBLE-SIGHTED 
among his predeces- wm£x ^ m^MiL A 

sors in magic, by uti- ™ " •• »nr n»«J^ * • 

lizing the newly found Egyptian Hai^JPiccadmi/, 
assistant to the magi- Patronage of tJfelONO&lloyal Family. 
cian, electricity. In 
his tiny theatre it would 
have been entirely 
feasible to have had 
electric wires run from 
all points of the audi- 
torium to the stage, 
thus doing away with 
both the speaking and 
ordinary signal codes, 
even the pneumatic 
tube. For this im- 
provement, and this 
alone, should Robert- 
Houdin be given credit. 
Nearly all magicians 
improve or redress 
tricks or apparatus 
handed down to them 

by their predecessors, but Robert-Houdin was not willing 
to admit that he owed anything to his predecessors. 

This immUhi'g Aaimal U from Naw York, wImm Mndty tmi iaeOitf k«f* 
Um the MinriM ud admintioa of til who han witn»ii>d Ua pa rf oi mt ma u , partU 
enlarh atBaioiiTOV. whara Mr. HAVivoToa haathahoaowofaaUUtiaf.aatU 
V^9t Dae. 1831 . Do* CARLOS' iraidarfiii aUUtiaa, by apaeU GamMidbaihi* 

His nwA C^raclouB IE^ie«tjr ^VlUlaat IT. 

AMD «.OTA& rAMXI>T. ■ 

At tba Patilioa ; on which oeeaakHi bia Majaatr and tlf -^ ^ Fhiafly mn plaMtA 
to as^raaa tht approbaaon and dali«fat thay axparianoM, U hia aual wtraordiatty 
M^fa£»aeaa. A to ihia half-raaaonidg Dog will aagply fnOtf tha Ww. of 
Malnra'a worka. Thiavary axtraordiaanraBdhaiidaoaiacfaatankaSpaBialarth* 
troa Spuiah biaad. and i« addition to hia wondarfnl ftenltiaa.iaafaoaiUandtnet* 
■U»-n dkpMition.'that ha nay ba managad by a child with parfcct aaaa and mtMj. 
Ria aeoalraiMnta conaiat chiefly of t^ar&nnnnGaa with Carda, wharain ho diapbw 
dMKMatMtpmiaion. Ha wiU alao aalact tho handaonaat Lady U tha Rooa. ai- 
mtt&m to hia Jadcmam (which ir aaldom^qaaatienad), aldaat * yooBMat Pofaon, ar 
^nTjlMion ^^tha Conq^y. and tha GantUman ^ 


Hk nrica ia Ftftr Gninaaa. Thafraaaitf ownar of thiabanntifnl anlaMJ wonUbn 
hMnte Ut him acGompuy Un to AmarWa. for which ba wiU ahortly ambnik^rt 
d8S CARLOS' jartiCTlarobjaction to a aotToyagaiatha only raaaanfcr We jijl*. 

'^'tU PMoriator of DON CARLOS, baga to inform tha Nobility and Oanlry, 
that ha k in randiaw* to attand Partiaa at their own hooaaa, on modarato chaigw. 
omtnaiainnana^. ^^^,„„f^^^j^ 


BeautlfU CuMUiry Bird* CTIposabel, 

Who win patfoim a ranaty of anwain g Tnclu j lilnwi«» the M aoical Damciiio Fiovata. 

•9- AdmlMlOB to tlM Whole Is. 

WJl Tki Fwdmn of DON CARLOS »i« it marycttd to ptrfiMm UmiwMulM 

fmnt U-ttr. i^xfrm \OmtU Uommf tUl9t Hiflf. 

•■M.MM«r.*l. V«MkwMain.t, vnf. 

Billing used for Don Carlos, the double- 
sighted dog. From the Harry Houdini 




IN chapters XVI. and XVII. of the American edition 
of his "Memoirs," Robert-Houdin states that 
he closed his theatre during the months of July, 
August, and September, 1847, and devoted his time 
to producing new tricks for the coming season. He chron- 
icles as the result of these labors the following additions 
to his repertoire: "The Crystal Box,'' "The Fantastic 
Portfolio," "The Trapeze Tumbler," "The Garde Fran- 
9aise," "The Origin of Flowers," "The Crystal Balls," 
"The Inexhaustible Bottle," "The Ethereal Suspension," 

Had these inventions really been original with the man 
who claimed them as the result of his own brain- work and 
handicraft, three years would not have sufficed to bring 
them to the perfection in which they were presented at 
that time. It is not always the actual work that makes 
a trick a success, nor the material from which it is con- 
structed, but it takes time to plan a new trick; and then 
after you have worked out the idea, it takes more time to 
make it practical. The same piece of apparatus may 
have to be made dozens of times, in as many shapes, 
before it is presentable. Therefore, when Robert-Houdin 
claims to have invented and built with his own hands the 
tricks mentioned in the list given above, it is time to prove 
the improbability and falsity of his statements. 


&m vATmowAOB or 







wiu oiTk A ■BUB or 


oouKNcnni ov thi irntiilo op 

BJond ay, June 14, lB92m 


Ikt kctaMft 


' 1ktTMBKtawrari(HeciaaIcntw) 

Ike Om ar Wtac^ or Om Mem flf 




Tki flrctl beuMli«e 



Tke Hwoli PMkel lutt«rcklcr 

The lack TtklcM 

Tke lagacllc SweN 


f-fUt 8€Vi* I Pnftmanet l» eommtne* <^ a Qimttr-fatt Eigkl o'eliek. 

9si mMerrad ImU, 1b| Ba(ok ImU, Is; aallwy, M. 

r lea remerMMalomed nd iMk Setfs, Halffrice 



Deon en* » lalf-MM Mc; 

4M« WTOon, niiTn. ii Mi-ni lu 

A Roberfc-Houdin poster on which his complete repertoire appears, under 
date of June 14^ 1852. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 



Inventions are a matter of evolution, but as the tricks 
which Robert-Houdin presented in his new repertoire 
were not new, he was able to oflFer them as the result of 
three months' work. To the expert mechanician or 
builder of conjuring apparatus his claim is farcical. The 






-*''*^ ^-*ir7"y"^ 

nv jj 



Poster used by Robert-Houdin during his first London enga^ment, 
featuring suspension. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 

majority of the tricks mentioned require skilled hands and 
infinite patience, if they work in a way that will completely 
deceive the public. Particularly is this true of the first 
suspension apparatus such as Robert-Houdin must have 
used. This included a steel corset or frame for the sub- 
ject, and both the corset and the supporting rods had to 



be strong, invisible to the audience, and still be perfect 
in mechanism. 

Robert-Houdin, with characteristic ambiguity, does not 
refer to a complicated mechanism, but lays stress on his 
ability to keep his tricks up-to-date and in line with 
popular movements of the hour. In writing of the sus- 
pension trick, he gives the impression that but for the 
sensation created by the use of ether as an anaesthetic he 
would never have thought out the new trick. His own 
words as presented on page 312 of the American edition 
of his "Memoirs" are reproduced in this connection: 

"It will be remembered that in 1847 the insensibility 
produced by inhaling ether began to be applied to surgical 
operations; all the world talked about the marvellous 
eflFect of this anaesthetic and its extraordinary results. 
In the eyes of the people it seemed much akin to magic. 
Seeing that the surgeons had invaded my domain, I asked 
myself if this did not allow me to make reprisals. I did 
so by inventing my ethereal suspension, which I believe 
was far more surprising than any result obtained by my 
surgical brethren. This trick was much applauded, and 
I am bound to say that my arrangements were excellently 
made. This was the first time that I tried to direct the 
surprise of my spectators by gradually heightening it up 
to the next moment, when, so to speak, it exploded." 

While Robert-Houdin, in his "Memoirs," claims to 
have invented the trick for the season of 1847-48, in the 
illustrated appendix of the French edition he states that 
the first production of the trick, with improvements, was 
in October, 1849. The improvement consisted of working 
the trick with a stool upon a platform, when, previous to 
IS [225] 


this date, he had used only the ordinary platform and 

During the course of researches covering many years, 
during which I visited- national libraries in various coun- 
tries, the firgt trace of the suspension trick was discovered 
in the writings of Ian Batuta, who flourished about the 
thirteenth century. He mentions two conjurers who per- 
formed before the. court of the Mogul in Delhi. One of 
the men assumed the form of a cube and rose into the air, 
where he remained suspended. The other man then took 
oflF his shoe, struck it against a rock, and it also rose and 
hung in midair, close to the suspended conjurer or human 
cube. On being touched on the neck, the cube descended 
to the ground, and the conjurer resumed his natural form. 

The historical verity of this tale cannot be determined, 
and it may be classed with the familiar story which crops 
up periodically, describing the ball of cord thrown into 
the air for a youth to climb into the clouds. Once out of 
sight, the youth is said to draw the cord up after him; 
then presently a leg falls from the unseen heights, then 
another, followed by an arm, a rib or two, and so on 
until the entire body is scattered upon the ground, the 
head coming last with the neck standing upward. At 
the command of the magician, the body seems to crawl 
together, so runs the tale, and eventually the ybuth stands 
up to be examined by the astonished populace. 

These stories belong in the very first of the travellers' 
tales. In 1356 Sir John Mandeville, called by some au- 
thorities " the Father of English Prose," after travelling 
thirty-four years, published a book detailing some of his 
marvellous "witnessings." Though many of his stories 





are absolutely impossible, yet so popular did his works 
become that, barring the Scriptures, more copies and 
manuscripts of the books containing his various "Magi- 
cian Stories" have been handed down to posterity and 
exist to-day than any works of his contemporaries. 
Still, Mandeville did not mention this suspension trick, 
which is sometimes attributed to the Chinese and some- 
times to the Hindoos. 

In Cologne, Germany, I purchased an encyclopaedia, 
published in 1684, from which I reproduce a double- 
page engraving, which shows the Chinese magicians 
doing the tricks previously accredited, in the stories of 
travellers, to Hindoo conjurers. 

In "Lives of the Conjurers," Thomas Frost describes 
the suspension trick as offered about 1828 or 1829 at 
Madras by an old Brahmin with no better apparatus than 
a piece of plank with four legs. This he had formed into 
a stool, and upon it, in a little brass socket, he placed a 
hollow bamboo stick in a perpendicular position. Pro- 
jecting from the stick was a kind of crutch, covered with 
a piece of common hide. These properties he carried 
with him in a bag, which was shown to all those who 
desired to witness his exhibition. The servants of the 
household then held a blanket before him, and, when it 
was withdrawn, he was discovered poised in midair 
about four feet from the ground, in a sitting posture, with 
the outer edge of one hand merely touching the crutch, 
while the fingers deliberately counted beads, and the other 
hand and arm were held in an upright position. The 
blanket was again held up before him, and the spectators 
caught a gurgUng sound, like that occasioned by wind 



The Brahmin suspension as shown in an ilhistration found in Robin's 
TAlmanach de Cagliostro. 



escaping from a bladder or tube. When the screen or 
blanket was again withdrawn, the conjurer was standing 
on the ground. 

The mystery was supposed to have been solved when 
Sheshal, commonly known as ^*the Brahmin of the Air," 
exhibited the trick in 1832 in Madras. It was observed 
that his stool was ornamented with two inlaid stars, and 
it was suggested that one of these might conceal a socket 
for a steel rod, passing through the bamboo, and that 
another rod, screwed to the perpendicular one and con- 
cealed by the piece of hide, might be connected with a 
mechanism of the same metal, passing up the sleeve and 
down the back, and forming a circular seat. This con- 
jecture probably was not far from the truth, for while 
Frost is by no means the greatest of authorities on magic 
and magicians, in this particular instance I believe that 
his explanation of the trick is correct. 

The next authentic early information I have gathered 
regarding suspension concerns that wonderful performer 
who called himself Ching Lau Lauro. Presumably he was 
a Chinaman, and from the programmes in my collection 
he evidently appeared first in England, in 1828, when he 
was engaged to perform between scenes of various plays, 
including "Tom and Jerry," at the Coburg. I repro- 
duce on page 231 one of Ching Lau Lauro's programmes. 

About 1833, or possibly a year earlier, he cut out some 
of his singing, and introduced the suspension with which 
he closed his performance. At this time he gave the 
entire programme. According to his programmes, in some 
places he excluded the public from the gallery, so I 
judge that his suspension was accomplished by the use 


JF%ve JViffhtff aniy. 

The celebrated CHING LAU LAURO, 

C L. L ka M Ik. 4hiiapMM4 kMMi af l^fwaiiu M»t iWi. M .p^i«. ,. iw f.^^ „ itnglUM, ^ 
MhafMMhn«il>]rllHtiMMc«lM-cMiBMHl. •uliMilmr U-nal i*rn»«l -' — - "-' — — ^ ■ 
iMMr, miliii >ttk Mnnl Mk«i Am Ikt CmH af 3* H«(k, HrMHw>l. H-mi ./ Wmi 
MMr Pmsi% H%k MTNl af akkk Hm Wteomt w • nry •• "i* H..<>.. f.,iM . - 

«n Ifanr Ifalri. H T*» L(iH 


Oo Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thurstday, and Friday, 

■w«h ihm lOih, lltk. lath, 13ih. and 14tli, 1834. 

Tk -Itiirtlt M* amiirtMtt Tdkau to • c«m|>l<u ^rrto •' AiaiMiiwKb. cimlxwiig. 




Viif H^olmtnsi of lio^tiaiitlj^ 

tk(M mlt-eijm Riwn af l>leckaiHM> >rrf r«mlcJ by ilw nlrb.^fnl <> iM^wlnl «• ^ (m^m^hi i.. 
*• Crtliil ar Caria.ltia> al l>ai<«, bM ■■(anrra anmtiuKn cMwaf ik« diMlMwi. .r thai n.|«.l. r.i<Mi.hiMnf. 
fcafcaa *( nayliHn aT Ihm MaMar-jriaM af Art, ikfjp »arr 4I.|Mm.I .^ uhI Mr «. L L i. io|i,.. »■ lu. , w .1 m k,. 

A Oaa* •! Whist, Tim* FUm, the Wm CaadlM SBchaated 

f\lcam*8 PorgCy Miracaious M*rinting! f Flying Watchy 




CHim LAV LAimO kM Ik* kaaaar la aaaauaca Ikat. pn.km4 la ku rtlurn 10 Lavitaa ta rnana hi. P.«ft>«i«<iai 

flllUI I Tl.1l' ' ' ' '- I ^j ..- SATIRICAL LE( Tt'NF.. Mri 

^ • NOVCL DIVVBTISEklENT, rn.tllcd 


toltattoM of th* FMUMrad CtmUob, auoh m ih* Thnuh. Blaokblrtf. 
Nl^tlasAto. Sky Irfirk. Ac' 

AIniiaitnytaiaiiarieljraf Ccccmric*cnai>ad Clianwuntfuwn Oo«> Ntiarr. inir«diKlar> gf 

His Surprising Powers of Imitation^ 

TENANCE, •ltd extraordinary Illiuionii in ALIOI.OQUY. (erroueoiuly termed 
Ventriloquy.) explaining its Agency in producing the mimlnrlcv 

PART m. 

FeoMs of Strength^ 



Awl •til caadnda ku waadarfal Kntcrtalnnicait by ^^ 

Sitting in the Jiir upon J)rothing ! ! ! 

. Al thr Mint lima pl»>m!^nh ilia COLDEW BALLS, he. 

A Q— drilto Band wUl b« la Att— danco. ^ 

Bmt M b««f«Md M Sevan •*Cleck. aad Ibc P«tfuriiMD« 10 conintatT ai a Qaarirr bc(ju Ei|hi. 
fMMT SEATB, 9i.— BACK SEATsi. la. -CHILDREN HALF PRICE 10 iiir Pnmi Sou only 
TICKETS to be had at Mr PARKE S, High-street. 

A t^^iSurtoJM— at wUl ba gU*B oa Frtday llarait. at hatf-pM» 
TwaW a o'clock. ~^ 

^ WPIkm ParV. r ..lrTiivw«'»aB»«*fc^ 

Ching Lau Lauro handbill featuring suspension in 1832. From the Harry 
Houdini Collection. 



escaping' from a IJaddc-r or tube. When the 
blanket was a^ain witlKirawn, the conjurer \va 
on ihr {(round. 

Till* mystery was supj)osed to have l)een sol 
Slu'slial, rommonly known as *'the Brahmin of 
exhibited the trick in ICS32 in Madras. It was 
tlial lu's sto(»I was ornamented with two inlaid 
it >\as .suiii;:esti'(l that one of these might concea 
u^v a >leel nnl, passing through tlie bamboo, 
.r.\^ilur nnb screwed to the perj)en(licular one 
.\..\\: by tlu* piece of Iiide, might be connect( 
-\\ V.^'.v. of the s;ime metal, i)assing up the s 
. , M- :;\- \:ck, and forming a circular seat. 
■,\.. \ '.^'.\^\:My was not far from the truth, 
: ..X, V ;> :\^ :r.iv»r.s ilic greatest of authorities 
V *\.^ . .^'v ::': ihis particular instance I be 
* X , \ . . \ . ,^^* v^: :>.c :rick is corriTt. 

•^, w , , ,".'^:i.' vV.rly information I have 

^ ^, vv ^^ . '^ .v:\vrn> that wonderful f 

, \ ^ ^v * ^^s^CiWigLiiu laum. i asum^ 

4rt IkMI tfit prncrammcs in 



of the iron rod from the back, which would have been in 

plain sight from the gallery. The stage would not permit 

the suspension to be w^orked out of range of the gallery gods. 

When Robert-Houdin went to London in 1848 he found 



First Profcfisoi olIHa^ic in theWarM 






P^ BMlCt Am «« ^Afl^1*li(^ 


tlV BMlTDlLlEailMTAli mAttZO. 



t»^ • •■■■■ •••«■■ 



The Juinrler of the 8«a aad Moob. 

^BStt5.Kar *• *"'^" "•^•' •• 

■VSTB&10VS OftSOK Uid Ito 

iMtotOdBeU. (Neekaalc.) 
The ^Jiily ^ColMMi, «r Ihe Docile Cw^. 

. Jc.) 

The Phllanthnpic BeDker. 
AChineM Metamorphoae. 
The FaatAMtlc Glass. 
Pierro the Mafficlsn. (Mechaalc) 
The Marriage atCana. 
Thi" ntnBnjte^mnrir ct if' ^ if 


Th(r .If lrni.'U- ur FIdwcth^. rMpt'h^nJr,) 

Tke FlQwpr e»nle& 


Ttif AllraL-uliia><^ frg^titcUea vf FleiKii. 

The ICnHiaBlH Vaofes, 

TbF Pushed Clwlrp, or foitr In one. 

ThebooinvreheiiBiUe HaaAorokM 

%■••! CIR« IK VMS ■» »■ 

Gold Fisb! 

Vtis eslTMrdlaan- real K ezeratetf la • plala Evealac Brea^ 
DrcM Ctrcli-, 4s. Bo xe«. ili> Pit, <)> 0*Uwy, U 

A Compars Herrmann programme of 1848 in which suspension is featured. 
From the Harry Houdini Collection. 



in the field of magic a clever rival, Compars Herrmann; 
a few months later came John Henry Anderson, the 
Wizard of the North. Both of. these men presented the 
suspension trick in precisely the same manner claimed by 
Robert-Houdin as his original invention of 1847. Neither 
Anderson nor Herrmann claimed the honor of having 
invented the trick, and it is more than likely that the 
mechanician who made their apparatus for the suspension 
trick made the one used by Robert-Houdin also. Herr- 
mann, like Robert-Houdin, called the trick ethereal sus- 
pension. Anderson gave it the title of ^^Chloriforeene 
Suspension," as the reproduction of an Anderson litho- 
graph on page 234 will prove. 

During precisely the same period of time a brilliantly 
successful German conjurer, Alexander, was presenting 
the same trick in America, where he remained as a pro- 
fessional entertainer for ten years. ' In my collection, 
together with corroborative handbills and programmes, 
there will be found this statement from Alexander: 

"The suspension was at first produced by me in 1845 
or 1846, after reading in an Oriental annual, edited by 
several officers of the Indian Army, the trick of a fakir 
who made a companion sit in the air by using a bamboo 
stick. My trick had no success, because the sitting was 
too near the ground. I then made him stand in the air, 
and the effect was marvellous." 

My meeting with Alexander, of which this correspond- 
ence was the result, marked an era in my search for 
material for this volume. Having read in a small book on 
magic, dated 1896, that a man named Heimburger, who 
had travelled in America as "Alexander the Conjurer," 



"Suspension CbloriforctMio/' as ])r(\seiito<l hv Anderson anil his son, from a 
lithograph iw(»(l by him on his n»turn from die Continent, December, 1848. 
From the llarry lioudiiii Collection. 



was living in his native town of Munster, in Westphalia, I 
determined to secure an interview with him if possible. 

On March 17th, 1903, while playing in Cologne, I 
boarded an express train and arrived in Munster bright 
and early. From the city directory I learned that one 
Heimburger resided in Krumpentipp^^ 16. Hailing a 
passing droschke I was soon carried to my destination, 
where a bright-faced German girl opened the door and 
ushered me, without formality, into the presence of the 
man to whom I desired to pay my respects. 

An old man, bent with years, snpw- white of beard and 
gray of head, came forward slowly to greet me. Finding 
that he was quite deaf, I raised my voice and fairly trum- 
peted my mission, adding that I felt especially honored to 
stand in the presence of the only magician who, up to that 
date, had ever appeared at the White House, Washington, 
by request of the President of the United States, my na- 
tive land. Alexander had been asked to entertain Presi- 
dent Polk and his guests on several occasions, and the 
fact that I knew this seemed to please the old conjurer 
and pave the way to a pleasant and profitable interview. 

In a few moments we were sitting side by side, and he 
was adding to my store of information by relating the 
most fascinating experiences, stories of fellow-magicians 
long since dead, and tales which he could corroborate by 
his own collection of bills, programmes, etc., his diary, 
and his personal correspondence. He had known Robert- 
Houdin, Frikell, Bosco, Count Pererilli, John Henry 
Anderson, Blitz, the original Bamberg of Amsterdam, 
Compars Herrmann, and many lesser lights among the 
old-time magicians. Robert-Houdin had told him per- 



sonally that being pressed for time he had entrusted the 
writing of his "Memoirs" to a Parisian journalist. 

As he warmed up to these reminiscences, he held me 
spellbound. Had he risen from the grave to tell of his 

Mrs. Leona A. Anderson, daiighter-in-law of John Henry Anderson, as 
she appeared with him in the suspension trick about 1868. From the Harry 

Houdini Collection 

contemporaries, he could not have riveted my attention 
more securely. 
Here was a man of eighty-four, whose memory quick- 



ened at the coming of one interested in his beloved art, 
whose eye brightened with each fresh detail of a long 
and successful professional life, and who, in fifty years of 
retirement, had not only written a book, but had kept in 
touch with the world of magic, giving me information 
which the most exhaustive encyclopaedia could not yield, 
answering questions on topics never yet discussed in 
dusty parchments and fading scripts. It was like having 
the history of magic unrolled before my eager eyes, in a 
living, palpitating, human scroll. 

It had been my intention to remain but a few hours in 
Munster, but the old master held me as if hypnotized and 
the hours fairly drifted past. Letter after letter, clipping 
after clipping, token after token, he spread before my 
fascinated eyes; and I allowed him to speak without 
question or interruption of any sort. Early in our inter- 
view he had remarked that he was beginning to feel old 
and that only the impetus of my presence was responsible 
for his unusual strength of speech. For over seventy 
years he had been collecting books on conjuring and kin- 
dred topics, which he was able to read in English, French, 
Spanish, and German. 

The dinner hour found us still engrossed in conversa- 
tion, and Frau Heimburger extended a most hospitable 
and cordial invitation for me to join the family circle. 
But my hunger was purely mental, and the true savor 
of the meal was the reminiscent chat of Herr Heimburger, 
who, from his post at the head of his household, looked 
as hale and hearty as if he had found the Elixir of Life 
which so many of his charlatan predecessors claimed to 
have "discovered." 



In 1904 I paid the old master a second visit. To his 
professions of jjleasure at meeting me once more, he 
adderl the gift of several rare programmes now in my col- 

Alexjinder IIoiTiihurf^'or, a veteran conjurer who presented the suspension 
frick in 1845-4f) during his American tour. From a photograph in the Harry 
Houdini Collection. 

lection, and when our hands met in a farewell clasp he told 
me that he had set all things in order and was ready for 
the coming of the Grim Reaper. Soon after that visit, 



however, I received a card with the following melancholy 

My dear Friend — ^Have not been very well of late, and 
have been expecting my last days. All preparations have been 
made and Death the Visitor arrived, but instead of calling for 
me, he has taken away my beloved wife. I am not capable of 
writing more. God be with you. From your old friend, 

Alexander Heimburger. 

Alexander Heimburger or, as he was billed, Alexander 
the Conjurer, was born December 4th, 1818. From 
1844 to 1854 he toured North and South America, return- 
ing to his native country with the intention of there follow- 
ing his calling as a professional entertainer. But his fame 
had preceded him, and, as his fortune was large, his 
souvenirs and tales of travel many and interesting, he 
was taken up by the world of fashion and lionized. This 
practically closed his career as a conjurer, for in those 
days magicians occupied no such reputable position in 
the professional world as they do to-day, and to have 
returned to his stage work would have closed the doors of 
aristocracy to him. He married one of Miinster's prettiest 
girls, who bore him six children, two sons and four daugh- 
ters. So he passed the remainder of his days, living 
modestly but comfortably on the money he had amassed 
in America, entertained by a large circle of appreciative 
friends, and well content to live thus, far from the madding 
crowd in which the professional entertainer must move. 

While the recollections of his public career and his 
meetings with other magicians, as well as notable men in 
other walks of life, were fresh, he wrote his book, "Der 
Modeme Zauberer" (The Modem Magician), which he 



claims, with much justice, is rated as one of the gems of 
German literature, as well as the best book ever written 
by a conjurer. It is built from extracts from his diary 
and is on the style of Sig. BUtz's book, but is far more 
diversified and interesting. 

His scrap-book also told a most romantic tale of vicissi- 

Alexander Heimburger, known in conjuring as Alexander the Conjurer, 
from a quaint illustration in "The North American," published in Mexico. 

tudes. A half-page article in the New York Tribune^ 

dated October, 1845, showed Alexander arrayed in a 

Chinese costume, and producing huge bowls of water, 

flowers, and various sorts of heavy articles. This proves 

conclusively that Ching Ling Foo was not the first con- 



jurcr to oflfcT this Chinese trick in America, as it is gener- 
ally supposed. Alexander added that all the old-timers 
would change their programmes by introducing the Chi- 
nese tricks, and, to verify his statement, readers need only to 
see the following files in Astor Librar}', New York City: 
New York Herald, New York Tribune, and New York 
Evening Gazette of November 6th, 1845. 

Herr Alexander had arrived in New York almost 
penniless, after a disastrous tour of other American cities. 
He tried to hire Niblo's Garden, but was informed that 
the auditorium was never opened in winter. Through 
the intercession of Mrs. Niblo, however, he finally secured 
it at a rental of twenty dollars per night. He opened to a 
small house and for three nights did not even pay expenses, 
but the fourth night witnessed a change in his fortunes 
and for three months he played literally to standing room. 
Then because he had no new tricks to olTer, and his pride 
forbade his presenting his old repertoire until receipts 
grew lighter, he closed his New York season. 

While playing in Saratoga, Alexander was approached 
by the late P. T. Bamum, who was accompanied by Gen. 
Tom Thumb. Alexander declined Mr. Bamum's offer 
because he thought to join the Barnum staff of entertainers 
would injure his professional rating. Barnum's admission 
fee was 25 cents, while Alexander charged 50 cents and $1. 

About this time the fame of Alexander attracted the 

attention of no less a personage than S. F. B. Morse, of 

telegraphic fame; and Alexander had on his programme 

one trick which mystified ^Vlorse, who honestly believed 

that the conjurer had discovered some new law of nature 

that might be of service to scientists. 
16 [241] 


Alexander called this trick "The Spirit Bell," an 
worked by one method or another, it has been used ' 
many magicians. Some employ a thread and hoo 


Effi gL %klML m. lA isWMEhiSmk'^. 

N'ERR ALEX AKDRR, il Miiar al m»fiiUf hUn it Qutuwb bt mi ai- 
nnn mnknmnks pw b ktnila KajMl fir Ir li §fn>»k. Imr ri bwr 4r vmoK 
. fw im. a pdkiH k nrk» prMus fir Ir bttfmt m a aaklal. <•« fwiNrs f^lm^ 
inra^ r« fir M qrnlMta hi sMlts MS MfRiMri fir St lui «bto n Ik Mrrii^ 

Alexander Ileimburgcr presenting the suspension trick during his engagcmc 
in Brazil. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 

causing the clapper to strike by pulling the thread whic 

runs through an innocent-looking ribbon on which tl 



bell hangs. Others use an electric magnet. Herr Alex- 
ander placed his bell on top of a fancy case which 
he could set anywhere, and the bell would ring at 
command. The secret was a small bird, trained to jump 
from one rung of a tiny ladder to another, at word of 
command or the waving of a stick or wand which the 
bird could see from its point of imprisonment. Every 
time that it jumped from one rung to another, it would 
pull down a step which was so arranged that by the 
smallest overweight it would release a catch, which in 
turn would throw the hammer against the glass. When 
the bird stepped off, the hammer would again come back 
to its original position and be ready for the second blow. 
This bird he bought from a street fortune-teller, who 
had trained it to go up different steps of a ladder and 
select envelopes containing variously printed fortunes. 

Alexander enjoyed personal acquaintance with Presi- 
dent Polk, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Calhoun, and 
their fellow-statesmen in the United States. Through 
his friendship with President Polk he carried to the West 
Indies and Brazil letters so influential that the aristocracy 
in these coimtries opened its doors to him. He was 
welcomed at the palace of Dom Pedro, and has in his 
possession letters from both the King and his consort, 
dated 1850. 

So much for the history of a man who was brave enough 
to admit that he developed the suspension trick from 
principles laid down by humble Indian fakirs. 

The crudest method used for accomplishing the sus- 
pension trick consisted of a steel corset, an iron rod 
painted to resemble wood, and a platform. The steel 



rod was fitted into a special place in the corset, also in 
the platform. This method was improved, first to make 
it a self-raising suspension, then eventually with a steel 
rod from the back of the stage, eliminating the use of 
both rods under the arms. 

Spectators and reviewers commented on the rigid, 
almost painful, carriage of Robert-Houdin's son during 
the performance, which they laid to the effect of ether. 
Unquestionably Robert-Houdin used this crude corset- 
and-rod method of working the trick. 

The fumes of ether which reached the audience, he 
admits, WTre caused by pouring a little ether over hot 
irons in the wings. 

But whatever the method employed by Robert-Houdin 
to secure the effects of ^'suspension ethereenne," he was 
merely introducing a century-old trick, which othet 
contemporary magicians were also exhibiting. The nanci^ 
of the real maker of the apparatus may never be known, 
but some clever mechanician supplied Robert-Houdin, 
Compars Herrmann, and John Henry Anderson with 
precisely the same method of working the trick, at pre- 
cisely the same time. Robert-Houdin alone was audacious 
enough to claim the invention as his own. 




SUPREME egotism and utter disregard for the truth 
may be traced in all of Robert-Houdin's writings, 
but they reached a veritable climax when he indited 
chapter XVI. of his "Memoirs." During the 
course of this chapter he described the so-called invention 
and first production of the disappearing-handkerchief trick. 

According to the American edition of his "Memoirs," 
page 303, he received a command to appear before Louis 
Philippe and his family at St. Cloud in November, 1846. 
During the six days intervening between the oflficial in- 
vitation and his appearance before the royal family, he 
arranged a trick from which, he states, he had every reason 
to expect excellent results. On page 305 he goes even 
further in his claims and announces: 

"All my tricks were favorably received, and the one 
I had invented for the occasion gained me unbounded 

He then gives the following description of the trick and 
its performance: 

"I borrowed from my noble spectators several handker- 
chiefs, which I made into a parcel, and laid on the table. 
Then, at my request, different persons wrote on the cards 
the names of places whither they desired their handker- 
chiefs to be invisibly transported. 

"When this had been done, I begged the King to take 



three of the cards at hazard, and choose from them the 
place he might consider most suitable. 

" 'Let us see/ Louis Philippe said, ' what this one says 
'^I desire the handkerchiefs to be found beneath one ol 
the candelabra on the mantelpiece." That is too eas) 
for a sorcerer; so we will pass to the next card: "The 
handkerchiefs are to be transported to the dome of the 
Invalides." That would suit me, but it is much too far 
not for the handkerchiefs, but for us. Ah, ah! ' the Kinj 
added, looking at the last card, 'I am afraid, M 
Robert-Houdin, I am about to embarrass you. Do yoi 
know what this card proposes?' 

"'Will your Majesty deign to inform me?' 

"'It is desired that you should send the handkerchiefs 
into the chest of the last orange-tree on the right of the 

" ' Only that. Sire ? Deign to order, and I shall obey. ' 

"'Very good, then; I should hke to see such a magic 
act: I, therefore, choose the orange-tree chest.' 

"The King gave some orders in a low voice, and ] 
directly saw several persons run to the orange-tree, ir 
order to watch it and prevent any fraud. 

"I was delighted at this precaution, which must add 
to the effect of my experiment, for the trick was alread) 
arranged, and the precaution hence too late. 

"I had now to send the handkerchiefs on their travels, 
so I placed them beneath a bell of opaque glass, and. 
taking my wand, I ordered my invisible travellers to pro- 
ceed to the spot the King had chosen. 

"I raised the bell; the little parcel was no longer there: 

and a white turtle-dove had taken its place. 



"The King then walked quickly to the door, whence he 
looked in the direction of the orange-tree, to assure him- 
self that the guards were at their post; when this was 
done, he began to smile and shrug his shoulders. 

"^Ah! M. Robert-Houdin,' he said, somewhat ironi- 
cally, *I much fear for the virtue of your magic staff.' 
Then he added, as he returned to the end of the room, 
where several servants, were standing, ^Tell William to 
open immediately the last chest at the end of the avenue, 
and bring me carefully what he finds there — if he does 
find anything/ 

"William soon proceeded to the orange-tree, and, 
though much astonished at the orders given him, he began 
to carry them out. 

"He carefully removed one of the sides of the chest, 
thrust his hand in, and almost touched the roots of the 
tree before he found anything. All at once he uttered a 
cry of surprise as he drew out a small iron coffer eaten 
by the rust. 

"This curious find, after having been cleaned from the 
mould, was brought in and placed on a small ottoman 
by the King's side. 

"'Well, M. Robert-Houdin,' Louis Philippe said tome, 
with a movement of impatient curiosity, ^here is a box; 
am I to conclude it contains the handkerchiefs?' 

"'Yes, Sire,' I replied with assurance, ^and they have 
been there, too, for a long period.' 

"'How can that be? The handkerchiefs were lent 
you scarce a quarter of an hour ago.' 

"'I cannot deny it. Sire; but what would my magic 
powers avail me if I could not perform incomprehensible 



tricks? Your Majesty will doubtless be still more sur- 
prised when I prove to your satisfaction that this coffer 

Reproduction of a very rare pastel f>ortrait of Cagliostro. From the 
Harry Houdini Collection. 

as well as its contents was deposited in the chest of the 

orange-tree sixty years ago.' 

**^I should like to beheve your statement,' the King 




replied with a smile; 'but that is impossible, and I must, 
therefore, ask for proofs of your assertion.' 

"*If your Majesty will be kind enough to open this 
casket they will be supplied.' 

"Certainly; but I shall require a key for that.' 
"*It only depends on yourself. Sire, to have one. 
tieign to remove it from the neck of this turtle dove, 
"Vvhich has just brought it to you.' 

"Louis Philippe unfastened a ribbon that held a small 
^^listy key with which he hastened to unlock the coffer, 
'^he first thing that caught the King's eye was a parch- 
Xnent, on which he read the following statements: 

"'This day, the sixth of June, 1786, this iron box, 
containing six handkerchiefs, was placed among the roots 
of an orange tree by me, Balsamo, Count of Cagliostro, 
to serve in performing an act of magic which will be exe- 
cuted on the same day sixty years hence before Louis 
Philippe of Orl&ms and his family.' 

"/There is, decidedly, witchcraft about this,' the King 
said, more and more amazed. ^Nothing is wanting, for 
the seal and signature of the celebrated sorcerer are placed 
at the foot of this statement, which. Heaven pardon me, 
smells strongly of sulphur.' 

"At this jest the audience began to laugh. 
" ^ But,' the King added, taking out of the box a carefully 
sealed packet, ^can the handkerchiefs, by possibility, be 
in this?' 

"^Indeed, Sire, they are; but, before opening the 
parcel, I would request your Majesty to notice that it, 
also, bears the impression of Cagliostro's seal.' 

"This seal, once rendered so famous by being placed 



on the celebrated alchemist's bottles of elixir and liquid 
gold, I had obtained from Torrini, who had been an old 
friend of Cagliostro's. 

" * It is certainly the same,' my royal spectator answered, 
after comparing the two seals. Still, in his impatience to 
learn the contents of the parcel, the King quickly tore 
open the envelope, and soon displayed before the aston- 
ished spectators the six handkerchiefs, which, a few 
moments before, were still on my table." 

A\Tiilc the use of the Cagliostro seal really formed no 
part of the trick, its possession by Robert-Houdin goes 
to show how indefatigably he collected conjuring curios 
and how quick he was to utilize any part of his collection, 
and score thereby a brilliant showing. 

Cagliostro seals were by no means rare. This prince 
of charlatans had seals, like adventures, in great variety; 
and in this connection, it is not out of place to tell some- 
thing of Cagliostro and thus explain why the parchment 
bearing his seal created such a sensation at St. Cloud. 

Cagliostro has no match in the annals of magic. Not a 
conjurer in the sense of being a public entertainer, he 
yet mystified and bewitched his thousands. Something 
of a physician, more of an alchemist, and altogether a 
charlatan, he left behind him a trail of brilliant chicanery, 
daring adventure, and ignominious failure and undoing 
unequalled in the history of Europe. 

Cagliostro was born Joseph Balsamo, in Palermo, 
Italy, June 8th, 1743. His parents were in humble cir- 
cumstances and he started his career as a novice in the 
Convent of Benfratelli, from which he was expelled for 
incorrigibility. Then he plunged into a life of dissipa- 



tion and cleverly planned, ofttimes brilliantly executed 
crimes. He fled Palermo after forging theatre tickets 
and a will, and duping a goldsmith out of sixty pieces of 

Reproduction of a rare portrait of Seraphinia Feliciani, Comtesse de Caglios- 
tro, wrongfully called Lorenzo in the Encyclopsedia Britannica. From the 
Harry Houdim Collection. 

gold.. At Messina he fell in with an alchemist named 
Althotas, a man of some learning who spoke a variety of 



languages. These two adventurers travelled in Egypt, 
and when Althotas died Cagliostro went to Naples and 
Rome, where he married a beautiful girdle-maker named 
Seraphinia Feliciani. This woman shared both his tri- 
umphs and his disgrace. In 1776 they arrived in London, 
where he announced himself as the Count di Cagliostro. 
The title was assumed, the name was borrowed from his 
mother's side of the house. Here for the first time Cag- 
liostro announced himself also a worker of miracles or 

He exhibited two mysterious substances, "Materia 
Prima,'' with which he transmuted all baser metals into 
gold, and "Egyptian Wine," with which he claimed to 
prolong hfe. His wife, who was just past twenty, he 
declared was more than sixty, her youthful appearance 
being due to the use of his elixir. He founded a spurious 
Egyptian rite in connection with the Masonic order 
which has been recognized as a blot upon Masonic history, 
and he claimed thousands of Masonic dupes. All over the 
Continent he and his beautiful wife travelled, now healing 
the poor for nothing, now duping the rich, but always 
living in a most picturesque, voluptuous fashion. He 
dipped into spiritualism and mesmerism, but wherever 
he went his converts followed after. 

In 1789, while in Rome, he was seized by that invincible 
power, the Holy Inquisition, and was condemned to death. 
Later Pope Pius VI. changed the sentence to life imprison- 
ment. Confinement made him more daring than ever. 
He asked for a confessor, and when a Capuchin monk 
was permitted to enter his cell in this capacity Cagliostro 
endeavored to choke him and escape in his robes. The 




s o : M • Si. 

S ft i 






monk fought for his life so effectually that it was he, and 
not Cagliostro, who escaped. Cagliostro was literally 
buried alive in a subterranean dungeon, as punishment 
for his final offence, and his wife immured herself in a 
Roman convent, where she died in 1794. 
In Paris, perhaps, Cagliostro enjoyed his greatest 

F ree Masons' LodgCt Myton-Ga te, 


Far THREE NIGHTS Longer . 
Mons. Felix Testot^ 

l a i ii ii i f lit -" ' j— " ' '-"--i^"'-'-*-! I- — ' — " ..-^- f * 

ft^Kl mm mm t , »IU mmH »& iWaJ* A w i ■!■■■■ t^ushtn tinaifm WtmtUf\m* w^ w» ^ 

Ob Thnndaj, Friday, and Saterdiy Byealnn, 

OtIoUr I*, M, mmd «, ISM. 

toMco(k«mwraATLM«a t T. •■ lalndMi IkM Wm4«M FmI if UmIm, 


Cabalistic Art* 

TW Gba^H* «« b« n^Mriii to k«Mr M. r.T. wHk • loM ar • fHtoIr arvflriw if MwtaHpMw 
-Mck p«M« M ksw Ml IM Mr lUi« «» km m iff H—H y Ij^rnai i I Urn u ntmitk tm mMm 
k«l«*,Mktaf<kAe«aekolc*l*<k.UwpMllT«»ram. lb •« lk« mm ft* nmW^ mMh I* 
«npfMr, Hi ht r«M4 to aiilili l y. «b«M«r *• Cn m f m y mtf nfnira, AM b W (if. 

TWwiM<k»rflWiMwlMl»U»<Mei M rf»iMMtt*»»(i>«rMlii H ri | | > iwitiMHlifclWtohl« 
ka'itMkM«aMMlwHrM«t«r^ftwtlwA44rU'nMlMlitt*ffMlOwta at Jmm^ fck, «kkk 
On b alfU lad da* aadcr It* laatdlito ckugi cT • ItattML It iIm MMi< »• gmlK illnliHiiil 
H4M%Sll«Oi(«r<, wUn tt« ««€<» twfwii ■»fi I— nil i N ly jMwyi* lri» >C» t i MM l l M tmm. 
M (katap •( UalnMUT Ckarck, lad nm rapMtai fMr mmmIw »fli|>l« lltfiriitMi ikMM Immn^ 
MiplMik AW h lAikM|k. ky tfc» arltom kd^ M«f«y«4 to lk« >f rf IMm*^ MMiait 



Transformation of a BIRD 




Testot programme, featurin.G: "Cabalistic Art" in 1826. From the Harry 
Houdini Collection. 

triumphs of charlatanism, and it is not remarkable 
that the appearance of his seal in the midst of Robert- 
Houdin's trick should seem almost uncanny to the royal 

But to return to the disappearing-handkerchief trick. 
Robert-Houdin did not invent this trick. It was pre- 



sented by a number of conjurers 
before Robert-Houdin was known 
in the world of magic. Robert- 
Houdin simply employed the trick 
familiar to both his predecessors 
and contemporaries and redressed 
it to tickle the fancy of his royal 

In England this trick was known 
among old conjurers as ''The Ne 
Plus Ultra of the Cabalistic Art/' 
In 1826 one M. F61ix Testot, 
who claimed to be a compatriot 
of Robert-Houdin, presented the 
trick in the British provinces, and 
one of his bills I am reproducing 
because it shows that the trick he 
offered the provincial Britons and 
the trick which Robert-Houdin 
offered the royal family at St. 
Cloud were identical. It also 
proves that London had seen the 
trick; and what London had seen, 
Paris, including Robert-Houdin, 
had heard of. 

A programme used by "The 
Celebrated Mr. Harriot, Professor 
of Recreative Philosophy," in 
1 83 1, contains word for word the 
announcement of the trick used 
on Testot's bill, which goes to 






I— ail lililli illilTii l«DiMKfcH>«f>— i>«i»M»» 
LiMnitl»Mri«tvNk*MwnWM.«« tiW wiifKillj l«» 
tmmmtmttimm illirtufaaUiBirfWiiMiii.^tfcMh— 
■ifcrlW I ll «f iii t l H » H i^iwy * i i |t » iasO*! to 

to km fctoOi to liStwl M ^m^titkLt lili||i*lii «fll» 
kMMSMiifeiMMft, •totaLtoiteiHHMHihinifMmtf 
■MM vto taN> blM tatoMltotor afatoMb riMtota,rH»aa9 


tStkud nth July, lai, 



Magical Illusions 

JUHm m &r p U i ii md Trmufirmatmu, 

Towng SmiJ%rO, 

Tto IM PiM «H IMMh* IW II to Mi blranMMfy VtaMtowDw ■! *• 

J^ad Bird rettM-ed to i^e ! 

Tto larWM* PHtoaa.-Tte MMto MmM af PriKi^ wNtaM 


WUik wo. U taMMiri. nw* M17 Cm! ataMB kf My W Ito AadOTML 

A New Method of Coiulnr Money, 


Daneing^ and Speak ing Mon ey t 1 


TWOiM'T^WtoMiinlilHtow Mf . M. M* *• Iih W • f«IM> 
« O WIl»l «l «M iii nl fw. ■■« ■ ■ . M *«.w«t« «l 11 II I I I..— 1>— 

jr«*Yk^ Tto» » i«i»!rf»ii iiiM«3»vS^S?«;!«A!k. 

tyto»»« IPI lilll l«»«f »lt «;w<lMl^U « H» *MM«lto|PMUM^, 

A«a *• BiMWMa HHfi. ?*• T(» ar Ito Oata^ GtarA. mJ*m^ 


IwndWMWtoii [■■iiii i*t i'ii ln toaw a^OMk. 

Marriot programme fea- 
turing "Cabalistic Art' in 
1831, or fifteen years before 
Robert-Houdin claims to 
have invented the disappear- 
ing handkerchief trick. From 
the Harry Houdini Collection. 




show that a jx^pular test was to have articles passed fron 

the Adelphia Theatre t< 
MYAL CLARENCE TIEATfi^ the gun which was bein^ 
— wMJ!!!!lTZii wmmJrl!!Ili'il!^ ^ SmT watchcd by a sentinel. 

i:^^:;;.rvt£x-r.':21?S;l^SSHS February 22d, 1833, 

•r.«ic»c«.j««««^^^,„ at the Royal Clarence 

Theatre, Liverpool 
Street, King's Cross, 
Liverpool. He agreed 
to make ^*an article fly 
at the rate of five hun- 
dred miles an hour, 
from King's Cross to 
the Centre of Greece." 

The original Buck 
featured on his pro- 
gramme a similar trick 
which he called "The 
Loaf Trick." On a bill 
dated October 26th, 
1840, it is announced 
as follows: "Watch in 
a loaf. The magician 
w^ill command any gen- 
tleman's watch to dis- 
appear. It will be found 
in a loaf at any baker's 
shop in Town." The 
senior Ingleby changed 
the trick somewhat, sending out to any market for a 


r>w dw CITY THKATBK. mt DUpUr fci» l«l«iiiM« INwm. 

9L Je'fFB'IrIIVI, 



A Becaater •t P*rt Wlae lalo Pare Water* 




Jefferini handbill, dated 1833, in which 
he announces that any article will be made 
to fly 500 miles a minute. 


shoulder of mutton, which, on being cut, would yield up 
^ card previously drawn by some spectator. He thus de- 
scribes his trick in his book ^' Whole Art of Legerde- 
main," published in London in 1815: 

''Teick Four. 

''To cut out of a Shoulder of Mutton a Card which one 

^^^^ Imown portrait of the clever English conjurer, Buck. From an engraving 
in the Harry Houdini Collection. 

0^ tlie Company had previously drawn out of the Pack. 

* Having desired a person to draw a Card out of several 

w^ich you hold to him, and to remember it, which he 

Promises to do, you tell him it shall be in a shoulder of 

mutton which you will send for. 

"Accordingly you desire a servant to go to the butch- 
er's and bring one. When brought, it is examined, 
17 [257] 


Empopor of all Obiijarori. 

m M * 

Ufiiir ito Ptooav cT Her Ror»l HighiMM *e MoccM of W4ji 


Mr. Ingleby, 


In hb Profeision, 

4I^MM|y l«teM ilKM«lll9.GcMrnM4PkUUh|wml,«Mlp 
^M«riklitMiitoBa«ttcMib*«Aft«rDMMiM, IwkMlMlMI 
«M ki* ito TiS^r •• EMRROl or ALL OON^UBOHIt* hf • M 
AawfclMi rf fl u a w iH / la n », pM^w ht fa tbrawk iIm hmhm T 


MONDAY, |iW.a9, 1M0, 
TMidai. Jlfa rc4 1, Thowday a. and 8Atinrd«]% S. 

. PART I. 

Mr. nVOLSBY. u4 kb merttoikmi Vmlly, 



"^"hTs'pixides metallurgy. 

An Operation inPopsoniaiice, 

r** *"Wt'a fowl* 1lgA0 OFF, 

■Mr. BHunflMiS^'^^i hi*Ht •"* ^^^j;"]^,^;' '^C[l!'!ti?'u''.J^" Sli' 


— ■ - -- ^ ■ - - -■-.«»- .»Mfc » «WM ?Ml»» rf »*■ fiwTtlhwM WO !■•»■« W ■■ ■ ■■ . 

•(MsatiiiflMr Ik**. 




Ingleby handbill, dated 1808. From the 
Harry Houdini Collection. 


and then ordered to be 
put down to roast. After 
performing some tricks, 
you recollect the shoulder 
of mutton, which is 
immediately brought 
half-roasted, and after 
cutting it for some time 
you at length find the 
card, and produce it. 


"Having forced a card 
on one of the company, 
your confederate has an 
opportunity, when the 
mutton is sent to be 
roasted, of conveying a 
thin duplicate of that 
card folded into a narrow 
compass into the fleshy 
part near the shank, 
which can be easily done 
by means of a sharp 

^ ' This trick, though 
remarkably simple, has 
created universal aston- 
ishment at the Minor 
Theatre, where it was 
frequently exhibited by 
Mr. Ingleby." 


The method of performing the trick was so familiar 

to conjurers of Robert-Houdin's time and earlier that 

Henry Evans Evanion was able to describe it to me from 

actual witnessings. Acting on his explanation, on my 

return to America I offered the trick, without any great 

Frontispiece from Ingleby's book, "Whole Art of Legerdemain," said to 
be an excellent likeness of the conim-er-author. From the Harry Houdini 

amount of preparation and without a hitch, at a matinee 
entertainment given by a secret organization. I will 
describe precisely how this was done, and allow my readers 
to 'judge of the similarity of the trick offered years ago by 



humble travelling magicians whose names have been 
written most faintly in the annals of conjuring, and the 
much- vaunted trick ^^ invented" by Robert-Houdin for 
the entertainment of his sovereign. 

The hall in which the matinee was given was located 
in Harlem, Borough of Manhattan, New York City, and 
I had decided that the handkerchiefs which were to make 
the flying journey should be ^'desired" by some one pres- 
ent to appear under the top step of the winding staircase 
in the Statue of Liberty, which is located in New York 
Harbor. This meant a half-hour ride from the hall to 
the boat in a Subway train; then a run across New York 
Harbor to the Statue. These boats left the dock on the 
hour and the half-hour, so I timed my performance to 
fill just half an hour, starting with some sleight-of-hand, 
the egg-bag trick, and swallowing a package of needles 
and bringing them up threaded, which latter trick was 
introduced into magical performances in Europe by K. 
K. Kraus in 1816. 

Just before 3 130 o'clock I borrowed three handkerchiefs 

and tied them together for easier handling. I had three 

handkerchiefs, similarly tied together, under my vest, and 

just at 3:30, I switched the two sets of handkerchiefs, 

so that the handkerchiefs furnished by the spectators 

were under my vest and the bogus handkerchiefs in my 

hand. First I dropped the bogus handkerchiefs on the 

table-trap, picking up the opaque glass cover with which 

they were to be hidden, and, by a carefully rehearsed bit 

of carelessness, dropped and broke it. Then, leaving 

the bogus handkerchiefs on the table trap, I stepped 

toward the wings, apparently to secure another glass bell 



or cover. To all in- 
tents and purposes, I 
did not pass from the 
view of the audience, 
for fully half of my 
body was on the stage, 
but as my assistant 
handed me a new glass 
cover, he deftly ex- 
tracted the real hand- 
kerchiefs from under 
my vest. Then, while 
I returned to the stage 
with my patter and 
description of the flight 
the handkerchiefs were 
about to make, my as- 
sistant, with the hand- 
kerchiefs in his pocket, 
walked unnoticed from 
the door, and, once out 
of sight, ran madly to 
the Subway station. 
There he boarded an 
express and reached 
the boat landing just 
in time to catch the 4- 
o'clock boat. At the 
Statue, my brother and 
a tinsmith were wait- 
ing for him. The 



TMx AmmrrAi <tT 





^^^ wuil « IlL KAir ■!! nUT lif Mj 1.1>C1. tM ItU TUl-pi^ I 

plOD Tuesday, June IS, tSuM 


rutT> I 



Reproduction of a rare Buck handbill, dated 
1844. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 



handkerchiefs were placed in the tin box, securely sol- 
dered, and then this box was placed inside a second iron 
box, which was locked. The "plant" was then taken 
upstairs and hidden under the top step. 

In the mean time, with my thoughts following my 
assistant every step of his trip, I was playing out my end 
of the game. The audience was supplied with blank 
cards on which they might write the name of the place 
where the handkerchiefs should reappear. This, of 
course, took some time, and when the cards, each folded 
to hide the writing thereon, were collected in a hat, I 
shook them up thoroughly, and then turned them out 
upon a plate, deftly adding, on the top, three cards which 
I had concealed in my hand. This was sleight-of-hand 
purely, and I next picked out those three prepared cards on 
each of which was written *'Can you send the handker- 
chiefs under the top step of the Statue of Liberty?'' 
Explaining that I had in my hand three cards chosen at 
haphazard, I wished the final choice to be made by a 
disinterested party. A baby was finally chosen to select 
the card. Naturally, I refused even to take the slip of 
paper from the baby's hand, and one of the lodge members 
read the question. 

Murmurs of surprise and incredulity echoed from all 
over the hall. The test was too difficult! I then an- 
nounced that if the audience would select its own com- 
mittee, making sure to pick out men who could not be 
bribed, I would accompany them, and we would surely 
return with the handkerchiefs, sealed in double boxes, 
as found under the famous stairway. As an elaborate 

course luncheon was to be served, the committee had 



time to act, and away we went, leaving the lodge to its 
feast. So much time had been lost in selecting the com- 
mittee that we reached the wharf just in time to catch 
the 5 o'clock boat. On landing I received a prearranged 
signal from my assistants that all was well, and as I 
watched my committee dash up the stairs I knew that 
their quest would be rewarded. 

When the committee and the writer returned to the 
lodge-room, a mechanic was required to pry open the box. 
There lay the identical handkerchiefs furnished by my 
spectators, who could hardly believe their eyes. 

On other occasions I have asked my audience to select 
a spokesman, who in a loud voice would announce the 
point at which the handkerchiefs would be found, and 
then my man, waiting just outside the door, would mount 
his bicycle and pedal like mad for the hiding-place, 
naturally outstripping any committee appointed. But 
th.^ first method, that of selecting the place beforehand and 
h^^^ang all arrangements made, even to the three prepared 
c^irds, is safest and is probably the one used by Robert- 
Hoiidin to deceive the French monarch. I doubt if he 
cv^en had three different cards prepared, as he claims. 
1 believe he exaggerated his feat, for that would have 
^c>^en taking long chances. 

For this trick I claim not an iota of originality. I 
simply fitted it to the time, the place, and the audience, 
and that I believe is all Robert-Houdin did when he 
** invented" the disappearing handkerchief trick for the 
amusement of his sovereign. 



robert-houdin's ignorance of magic as betrayed 
by his own pen 


iTATEMENTS in Robert-Houdin's various works 
on the conjurer's art corroborate my claim that he 

was not a master-magician, but a clever purloiner 

^ and adapter of the tricks invented and used by 

his predecessors and contemporaries. Whenever, in these 
books, he attempts to explain or expose a trick which was 
not part of his repertoire, he betrays an ignorance which 
would be impossible in a conjurer versed in the finer and 
more subtle branches of his art. Neither do these expla- 
nations show that he was clever enough as a mechanic to 
have invented the apparatus which he claimed as his 
handiwork. He states that practice and still more prac- 
tice are essential, yet no intelligent performer, amateur 
or professional, can study my collection of Robert-Houdin 
programmes, handbills, and press notices without realiz- 
ing that his repertoire contained little or no trace of what 
should be the foundation of successful conjuring, sleight- 
of-hand. Changing his fingers over the various air-holes 
of the inexhaustible bottle was as near as he ever came 
to sleight-of-hand, even when he was in the height of his 

According to the press notices he had a pleasing stage 
presence, and also dressed and set forth his tricks richly, 
but it must be borne in mind that then, as often to-day, 



the man sent by an editor to criticise a conjurer's per- 
formance knew little or nothing about the art and could 
not institute comparisons between different magicians. 
To-day Robert-Houdin would shine as an exhibitor of 
illusions or mechanical toys. A pistol shot, a puff of 
smoke — and his confederate or assistant has done the 
real work behind the scenes. 

His lack of finesse as a sleight-of-hand performer is 
nowhere more clearly shown than in his own writings. 
On page 37 of his French expose of the secrets of magic, 
entitled "Comment on Devient Sorcier" (page 51 of the 
English translation by Prof essor HoJBfmann, "The Secrets 
of Conjuring and Magic"), he thus naively describes 
his masterpiece of coin-palming: 

"I myself practised palming long and perse veringly, 
and acquired thereat a very considerable degree of skill. 
I used to be able to palm two five-franc pieces at once, the 
hand, nevertheless, remaining as freely open as though 
it held nothing whatever." 

An amateur of his own day would have blushed to 
admit that he could palm but two coins. Men like T. 
Nelson Downs, "The Koin King," think nothing of 
palming twenty five-franc or silver dollars, or forty half- 
dollars, and even this record has been broken. 

Even two writers who contributed to the translation 
and editing of his works, R. Shelton Mackenzie and Pro- 
fessor Hoflfmann (Angelo J. Lewis), and who have drawn 
rich royalties for the same, apologize for his flagrant mis- 
statements, which, they realize, any man or woman with 
but a slight knowledge of conjuring must recognize. 

His first contribution to the history of magic was his 



"Memoirs"; and while he does not feature exposures of 
tricks in this work, he offers, in passing, explanations of 
tricks and automata presented by other magicians. For 
the most part these explanations are obviously incorrect, 
and so prove that he was ignorant of certain fundamental 
principles of the art in which he claimed to have shone. 

In the introduction of the American edition, published 
in 1850, Mr. Mackenzie, the editor, thus apologizes for 
one of Robert-Houdin's most flagrant mistakes in tracing 
the history of magic: 

"One error which M. Houdin makes must not be 
passed over. His account of M. de Kempelen's cele- 
brated automaton chess-player (afterward MaelzePs) is 
entirely wrong. This remarkable piece of mechanism 
was constructed in 1769, and not in 1796; it was the 
Empress Maria-Theresa of Austria who played with it, 
and not Catherine II. of Russia; it was in 1783 that it 
first visited Paris, where it played at the Caf6 de la 
Regence; it was not taken to London until 1784, and 
again in 1819; it was brought to America in 1825, by M. 
Maelzel, and visited our principal cities, its chief resting- 
place being Philadelphia; M. MaelzePs death was in 
1838, on the voyage from Cuba to the United States, and 
not, as M. Houdin says, on his return to France; and the 
automaton, so far from being taken back to France, was 
sold by auction here, finallv purchased by the late Dr. 
J. K. Mitchell, of Philadelphia, reconstructed by him, 
and finally deposited! in the Chinese Museum (formerly 
Peak's), where it was consumed in the great fire which 
destroyed the National Theatre (now the site of the 

Continental Hotel, comer of Ninth and Chestnut Streets), 

[ 266 ] 


aad, extending to the Chinese Museum, burnt it down on 
Jialy 5th, 1854. An interesting account of the Automaton 
Chess-Player, written by Prof. George Allen, of this 
city, will be found in 'The Book of the First American 
Chess Congress,' recently published in New York." 

Signor Blitz, in his book "Fifty Years in the Magic 

Circle," corroborates the Mackenzie correction, by telling 

hoAjv he saw Maelzel in Havana, Cuba, where the famous 

G^^rman met his professional Waterloo, first in small 

avidiences, then in the death of his faithful confederate, 

SeUomberg. Finally, broken in health and spirit, Maelzel 

sailed from Havana for Philadelphia, but death overtook 

Mm at sea. His body was consigned to the ocean's depths, 

and his few effects were sold to liquidate the cost of 

passage and other debts. 

That Robert-Houdin should make an error concerning 
a world-famous automaton the history of which could be 
traced through contemporary periodicals and libraries, is 
almost inconceivable and proves the carelessness with 
which he gathered and presented facts. 

His inability to grasp the principles on which other 
performers built their tricks is shown most clearly when 
he attempts to describe and explain the performances of 
the Arabian mountebanks whom he saw during his stay 
in Algiers. These tricks have been handed down from 
one generation to another, and now that Arabian con- 
jurers and acrobats are imported for hippodrome and 
vaudeville performances in all civilized countries, the 
tricks described by Robert-Houdin are familiar to the 
general public. They are also copied by performers of 
other nationalities, and can be seen in circus side-shows 



and at fairs, as well as in the better grade of houses. 
Having worked on the same bill with genuine Arabian 
performers, I know just how the tricks are accomplished. 

Robert-Houdin undertakes to explain these tricks in 
chapter XXII. of the American edition of his "Me- 
moirs." So long as he quotes reliable authorities like the 
Journal des Sciences^ the explanations are correct. Di- 
rectly he attempts an independent exposure, he strikes 
far from the correct explanation. 

On page 424 he states: 

'^In the following experiment, two Arabs held a sabre, 
one by the hilt, the other by the point; a third then came 
forward, and after raising his clothes so as to leave the 
abdomen quite bare, laid himself flat on the edge of the 
blade, while a fourth mounted on his back, and seemed 
to press the whole weight of his body on him. 

"This trick may be easily explained. 

"Nothing proves to the audience that the sabre is 
really sharpened, or that the edge is more cutting than 
the back, although the Arab who holds it by the point is 
careful to wrap it up in a handkerchief — ^in this, imitating 
the jugglers who pretend they have cut their fingers 
with one of the daggers they use in their tricks. 

"Besides, in performing this trick, the invulnerable 
turned his back on the audience. He knew the advantage 
to be derived from this circumstance; hence, at the mo- 
ment when about to lay himself on the sabre, he very 
adroitly pulled back over his stomach that portion of 
his clothing he had raised. Lastly, when the fourth actor 
mounted on his back, he rested his hands on the shoulders 

of the Arabs who held the sabre. The latter apparently 

[ 268 ] 


ixiaintained his balance, but, in reality, they supported 
tlie whole weight of his body. Hence, the only require- 
xxient for this trick is to have the stomach more or less 
I>ressed in, and I will explain presently that this can be 
^fected without any danger or injury." 

In this explanation Robert-Houdin is entirely wrong. 

... A Rannin lithograph, showing him doing the sword-walking act^ which 
IjQbert-Houdin claimed to have been a fraud. Rannin is still working in Ger- 
^&any, imitated by many, equalled by none. From a photograph in the Harry 
Houdini Collection. 

The real secret of lying on top of a sharp-edged razor, 
sword, or sabre rests on the fact that the performer does 
actually lie upon it in a perfectly motionless position. 
Were he to move but the width of a hair, backward or 



forward or sidewise, the weapon would slice his body, 
resulting in instant death or horrible mutilation. I have 
watched cheap performers of this class of work, in dime 
museums or fairs, walk up a ladder of sharp swords 
which I had previously held in my hand. They would 
place the foot down with infinite precision and then press 
it into place. This position will not result in cutting, 
but let the performer slip or slide and the flesh would 
be cut instantly. I have also seen an acrobat, working 
in a circus, select two razors in first-class condition, place 
them on a socket with the edges of the razors uppermost, 
and with his bare hands he would do what is known as 
a hand-stand on the keen edges of the blades. This trick 
of absolute balance is acquired by persistent practice 
from youth up. 

Again Robert-Houdin errs wofully in comparing the 
sabre-swallower to the swallower of broken bottle-heels 
and stones. Sabre-swallowing is one trick, swallowing 
pebbles and broken glass belongs in quite a different 
class. And when I say this I do not mean powdered 
glass, but pieces of glass first broken, then chewed, and 
finally swallowed. 

On page 426 Robert-Houdin puts the two tricks in the 
same class, as follows: 

"When the trick of swallowing bottle-heels and pebbles 

was to be done, the Aissaoua really put them in his mouth, 

but I believe, I may say certainly, that he removed them 

at the moment when he placed his head in the folds of the 

Mokadem's burnous. However, had he swallowed them, 

there would have been nothing wonderful about this, 

when we compare it with what was done some thirty 



years back in France by a mountebank called 'the Sabre- 

"This man, who performed in the streets, threw back 
his head so as to form a straight line with his throat, and 
really thrust down his gullet a sabre, of which only the 
hilt remained outside his mouth. 

"He also swallowed an egg without cracking it, or 
even nails and pebbles, which he caused to resound, 
by striking his stomach with his fist. 

"These tricks were the result of a peculiar formation 
in the mountebank's throat, but, if he had lived among 
the Aissaoua, he would have assuredly been the leading 
man of the company.'' 

The sabre-swallower never releases his hold on the 
weapon. The pebble and bottle-heel swallower does — 
but brings them up again, by a system of retching which 
results from long practice. The Japanese have an egg- 
swallowing trick in which they swallow either small- 
sized ivory balls or eggs, and reproduce them by a retch- 
ing so unnoticeable that they could easily show the mouth 

This trick dates back to the oJBferings of that celebrated 
water-spouter, Blaise Manfrede, or de Manfre, who trav- 
elled all over Europe. This man could swallow huge 
quantities of water and then eject it in streams or in small 
quantities or fill all sorts of glasses. In fact this one trick 
made him famous. The European Magazine^ London, 
March, 1765, pages 194-5, gives a most diverting descrip- 
tion of his trick, taken from an old letter, and here quoted : 

"I have seen, at the September fair in Francfort, a 

man who professed drinking fifty quarts of water in a 



day, and indeed proved that he was capable of execut 
what he pretended to. I saw him perform frequen 
and remember it as well as if it was but yesterday, 
said he was an Italian; he was short and squat, 

Vf.iu i;r> j*iu.^ i> J Bij^sii m. u\s?HLsr/iiHi skvu Jt.«7±i6>^i 

Blasius de Manfre or Blaise Manf rede, from a rare old woodcut in the H 
Houdini Collection. 

chest, face, forehead, eyes, and mouth very large. 

pretended to be fifty years old, though he did not se 


*^He was called the famous Blaise Manf rede, a nat 

of Malta. At Francfort he frequently performed th 

times a day: for, besides his performances twice a c 



on the public stage (which nobody approached without 
paying), he attended private houses when called upon by 
great people. 

"He called for a large bucket of fair warm water, and 
twenty little glass bottles, flat like cupping glasses, so 
that they could stand topside turvy. Some of these he 
filled with water, plunging them into the bucket with a 
good deal of ceremony, and usually swallowed two or 
three to wash his mouth and gargle his throat. He threw 
up the water again immediately, to shew the spectators 
that he had no drugs between his teeth, whence he could 
be suspected to derive any advantage. 

"After this plausible prelude, he made an Italian 
harangue, which I cannot acquaint you with the merits 
of, because I am a stranger to the language. . . . After 
his harangue he usually took off two dozen of his little 
bottles, which he filled from the bucket, and a moment 
afterwards returned the liquor through his mouth. But 
what is most extraordinary is that this water, which he 
threw out with violence, appeared red like wine. And 
when he had discharged it into two different bottles, it 
was red in one and russet hke beer in the other; as soon 
as he shifted the bottles to the contrary sides, they changed 
their complexion respectively to that of wine or beer, and 
so successively so long as he continued vomiting; in the 
mean time, I observed that the water grew less discolored 
in proportion as he continued to discharge. This was the 
first act. Then he ranged his two dozen of bottles oppo- 
site to him on a table, and exposed to everybody's view. 
Then he took an equal number of bottles, plunged them 
anew into the bucket, swallowed them too, and returned 
i8 [273] 


them in water very transparent, rose-water, orange-flower- 
water, and brandy. 

"I have smelt the several odours of his liquors; nay, 
I have seen him set fire to a handkerchief dipt in that 
which smelt like brandy, and it burnt blue like spirituous 
liquors. . . . Nay, he frequently promised at Venice to 
give the water back again in milk and oil. But I think he 
did not keep his word. In short, he concluded this scene 
with swallowing successfully thirty or forty glasses of 
water, always from the same bucket, and after having 
given notice to the company by his man (who served as 
an interpreter) that he was going to disembogue, he 
threw his head back, and spouting out the fair water, 
he made it spring up with an impetuosity like that of 
the strongest jet (Teau, This last feat delighted the 
people infinitely more than all the rest, and during the 
month he was at Francfort numbers from all parts came 
to see this slovenly exercise. Though he repeated it more 
than once a day he had more than four hundred specta- 
tors at a time. Some threw their handkerchiefs, and some 
their gloves upon the stage, that he might wet them with 
the water he had cast up, and he returned them differently 
perfumed, sometimes with rose-water, sometimes with 
orange-flower- water, and sometimes with brandy." 

Another famous juggler and water-spouter was Floram 
Marchand, whose picture is herewith reproduced. Judg- 
ing from his dress, he antedated Manfrede. 

BelPs Messenger of July i6th, 1816, tells of a sword- 
swallower whose work is extremely pertinent to this dis- 
cussion, and the clipping is quoted verbatim: 

"The French papers give a curious account of one 



James de Falaise, a Norman, about fifty years of age, living 
in the Rue St. Honore. It is said that this extraordinary 
man will swallow whole walnuts, shell and all, a tobacco 

Floram Marchand. 

FLORAM Marchand r 

Wkttr Spouur Sc JtiiffgUr, 

From an old, undated En^rlish publication in the Harry 
Houdini Collection. 

pipe, three cards rolled together, a rose with all its leaves, 
long stalk, and thorns, a living bird, and a living mouse, 
and, lastly, a live eel. Like to the Indian jugglers, he 



swallows the blade of a sabre about thirteen inches long 
of polished steel. This operation he performs very slowly, 
and with some precaution; though he evinces no symp- 
tom of pain. After every solid body that he swallows, he 

Position taken by the subject in the Indian basket trick before he is covered 

by the sheet. 

always takes a small dose of wine expressly prepared for 
him. He does not seem to make any ejBfort to kill the 
living animals that he takes in his mouth, but boasts that 
he feels them moving in his stomach." 



In my collection is the handbill of a stonc-swallower 
who exhibited at No. lo Cockspur Street, London, charg- 
ing an admission fee of half-a-crown. 

These performers actually swallowed the water, stones, 

Indian fakir seated in the basket after the subject has been "vanished." 

pebbles, etc., and retched them up again so cleverly and 
at such carefully selected instants that the audience did 
not know that the disgorging had been accomplished. 
Swallowing glass was a different matter, and the mod- 



em human ostriches have all wound up at city hospitals 
where surgeons have removed broken glass, knife blades, 
and other foreign matter by means of an operation. 

I quote the above instances simply to prove that the 
stones were actually swallowed and then disgorged, and 
not hidden, as Robert-Houdin claims, in the folds of the 
Mokadem's burnous. 

In this one chapter alone Robert-Houdin quotes six 
authorities in explaining the tricks he witnessed, which 
fact only strengthens my belief that he borrowed his 
tricks, as well as his explanations, from able and graphic 
writers on the art of magic. 

The next work descriptive of the conjurer's art offered 
by Robert-Houdin was ^^Les Secrets de la Prestidigitation 
et de la Magie." Under the title of ''The Secrets of Con- 
juring and Magic; or. How to Become a Wizard," it 
was translated and edited by Professor Hoffmann and 
published in 1878 by George Routledge & Co., London 
and New York. 

Absolutely no originality is displayed in this book, and 
the majority of the tricks explained can be found in 
French books of a similar character which appeared be- 
fore Robert-Houdin turned author. The proof of this 
statement can be found by reading any of the following 
works upon which Robert-Houdin patently drew for his 
material : 

''Nouvelle Magie Blanche Devoilee et Cours Complet 
de Prestidigitation," in two volumes, by J. N. Ponsin, 
published in Paris in 1853; "Grande Initiation au 
vraie Pratique des Celebres Physiciens-Prestidigitateurs," 

Paris, 1855; "Nouveau Manuel Complet Sorciers, les 



scenjes de Ventriloquie executees et communiquees par M. 
Conte, Physicien du Roi," Paris, 1837; "Anciens etNou- 
vaux Tours d'Escamotage," of which there are innumer- 
able editions; "Le Manuel des Sorciers. Recreations Phy- 
siques, Math^matiques, Tours de Cartes et de Gibecifere; 
suivre, des Jeux de Societe," Paris, 1802. 

His third work, "Magie et Physique Amusante," trans- 

Position of the "vanished" Hindoo while concealed in the basket. From the 
Harry Houdini Collection. 

Jated by Professor Hoffmann under the title of "The 
Secrets of Stage Conjuring," and published in English 
^ 1881, is marred by an almost continuous strain of mis- 
statements, incorrect explanations, and downright falsifi- 

On page 17 of the American edition Robert-Houdin 



starts his dramatic tale of inventing a detector lock by 
which he protected a rich neighbor, M. de TEscalopier, 
from robbery, and incidentally in return secured funds 
with which to open his theatre in the Palais Royal. In 
his "Memoirs" Robert-Houdin states that the opening 
of the theatre was made possible by the invention of the 
writing and drawing automaton whose history has been 
traced in chapter III. The reader can choose between 
the two stories. One is as plausible as the other. 

But to return to the detector lock. Count or M. De 
PEscalopier having complained grievously to his humble 
neighbor, the watchmaker Robert-Houdin, that he and 
his family were being robbed, begged that the latter sug- 
gest some means of catching the thief. Robert-Houdin 
then recalled a childish device by which he had caught 
his school-fellows in the act of pilfering his desk, etc., 
and he proposed to the Count that the same device, elab- 
orated to meet the strength of a full-grown man, be at- 
tached to his wealthy patron's desk. As first planned, the 
detector lock was to shoot off a pistol on being tampered 
with, and then brand the hand of the thief with nitrate 
of silver. Count de PEscalopier objected to branding a 
man for life, so Robert-Houdin substituted for the nitrate 
of silver a sort of cat's claw which would clamp down on 
the robber's hand and draw blood. The Count deposited 
ten thousand francs in his desk and caught the robber, 
his confidential servant, red-handed. The ten thousand 
francs he presented to Robert-Houdin as a reward for 
stopping the thefts. 

A charming tale this makes, but, unfortunately for 

Robert-Houdin's claims to originality, the detector lock 



was not a novelty in his day. The lock which would 
first alarm the household by setting off a pistol and then 
brand the thief's hand, is described by the Marquis of 
Worcester in hi& book 'Xenturie of Inventions." As 
locks and locksmithing form my hobby, while in England 
I purchased the entire set of patent-books, to add to a 
collection of locks and fastenings from every known coun- 
try of the world. In the introduction of the first book of 
patents for inventions relating to locks, latches, bolts, 
etc., from a.d. 1774 to 1866, the following quotation will 
be found: 

^'The Marquis of Worcester in his 'Centurie of Inven- 
tions' thus describes the first detector lock invented, a.d. 
1640, by some mechanical genius of that day: ^This lock 
is so constructed that, if a stranger attempts to open it, it 
catches his hand as a trap catches a fox, though as far as 
maiming him for life, yet so far marketh him that if sus- 
pected he might easily be detected.' " 

It appears that to this lock was fitted a steel barb 
which, if a certain tumbler was overlifted in the act of 
picking or otherwise, was projected against the hand of 
the operator by a spring. I have seen such a lock as this 
in the collection of Hobbs, Hart & Co., London, who 
have had it in their possession many years. In every 
respect it answers the description of the invention claimed 
by Robert-Houdin as his own. 

Chapter VII. of "Secrets of Stage Conjuring" is de- 
voted to Robert-Houdin's very incorrect explanation of 
the famous Indian Basket Trick. Even his own trans- 
lator, Professor Hoffmann, takes issue with Robert-Hou- 
din, as will be seen by reading his foot-note on page 104: 



"We will not venture to question the fact vouched for by 
so high an authority as Robert-Houdin, that the Indian 
Basket Trick may sometimes be performed after the 




Th^ Indian •fugglert. 

. Om MONDAY. JULY 16. 

AiA, iof • liMMl p»rMd. go tkrMgk tW tttel* orhk 

ExtrMndinary FenU of Strength and Afiiky. 


CoMMlii^ of « tbriM of E««liilinM wiA 



"""Several feats op BAiXANaNa 

U which fa* •fll rflNdm IW 

MmUding a Canopy wUh hiU TbH^nf^ 



Spinning of.-a T«pon « Point m fine m a N«edle» 


. Aba. fait mfaly AcUvily ■• 

Throwing a Larse Ball the slse of an 
18-p6ii9d Shot 


Itte rMfcnMBMi to eoaincnce erwy Itey ftt One o'Clocji, m4 «««7 

A Ramo Samee handbill, featuring his stone-swallowing act. From the 
Harry Houdini Collection. 

manner above described, but we doubt very much whether 

such is the usual or customary method." 

Robert-Houdin states that the child is placed in the 

basket, and the Indian fastens down the lid with leather 

straps. To facilitate this operation, he rests his knees 


For Six Nighte only. 


In ike JLarge Boom^ oppatiie th^ Cuiiaim'H^tuet 

1fc« latebitadto of HULL aad it; Y icMttj ara iMpcetf uH/mfonBcd. that 

Oh Wednesday Evening^ Aug. 36, 1818. 

The Indian 


fPttf exkiM^tkeir tfrntioaiUi Piiformaiuet: 

Tbcie tetnofdiurj Indjun are Native* of 8er!n«]M(ani, and haTe beea'cibibitiaf for mmm 
lUM pkflt ia tlMrMctropolii, befon nanr of the Nobilitj, who unaninioutljr pruoouaccd them to 
be the Srtt.Maftert of the Art in thu Kyigiiom. 

A*M|>I tka Dm*reu PerfenuiKM.ilM Mlawias may to iMiked t 

Various Deceptions with Cups and Balls; 


A »RRIR» or 


With Four h<A\«w Braaw Balli. about the sue of Oranges. 

ttoMwtroritoJa|rii>Wtfltocb»l«wtwlt»CBUd»;'bacM<c«tlic«tedcicfib>ewrTi»wibl«awlt teUildly. 
p«pn£al«lr. gMqS ^ lwtWftriy, ronJ lu» l^, aMto Vm Am. iboirt Wm ticad. in imU aod brp CinuMJimiJ. 
wiJt V wMi w tiyaity. MdlwqiiMtte wlwlci« Motto lit UwiMwl^ TUi Mm the *ala froit ol Efcrt, Aclirii*. 
MiidiiMi «< Eye, mJ wpMity of Mothw. m one who bat aol irilacmd it cm form na mIm of it* cmcDcooo. TbtopaRaT 
£lRrSrm«wiltoa«Mipwic4wUliHa*ic '^ 


At tko MMC ti«o tornii^ IUii|« wiik kii Fingan and Tan. 


Feats of Balancing, 

k«Uch«MofiktIidlaMlMiaStlKMlDoy'*ceaiBHmr)e|-lop. wlilch h« moumcmh to tute aiih grrat reloeitr is Ua 
Iwid. aad Awa 1ht»c» coavoy* it «a a poiat ai ftae a« a Ncrrflc. Wbicii it balaaccd oa U* Chia. aad ia tliiViitttaiM ulcn 
It bow la the CoaMaay. wk'iie retr«d*u||oatlMbcAire-OKBiioacd point) andafterwaid* reatofca ii In tlic Word of C<Ma«aad, 
l«ilN «aM Efiintfai* wd SicadincM M wlKa firrt ipoa. 

Erecting a curiam Pagoda on the top of his Nose^ 

• A!(0 aRMOVIXt. THE lAMR tt ITH •liRPRI«iiio~lilCF.9IVlTY. 

His mm\y activity in throwing a Lai*ge Ball, the sisce. 
of an Eij^hteeu-poiind Shot, 

Ti d W trtfc t part* «< l» Body, itltli tfca pe«te«t enio > he placet it brlwfca hU Foot, aad timnra it oter his Shoaldcr, 
«tea1taMU0Ahi*Arai. and ihra wtik the graalnl ticdiiy thrairi it o« the ludi part of hU Neck ^ aad after display. 
<i«««a(i(ly«rGj«bobo(tlu.«ort.bc&a«Uy,bol»iiha9aslcrlyjcrk, . ■ r-' 

Tkrvw$ this Ball of Twelv$ Pounds round /tis Head, 

*,||iaMl lie li<HMir* of Uf Ikadf ; and icitrU other AchU«emt«to, loo nomerom to oieiitioa In the liarilt of a tfaod Oil)/ 

Handbill used by the original Indian jugglers in England during 1818, in 
which the sword-swallowing trick is featured. From the Harry Houdini 



against the basket, and the bottom of the latter thus being 
turned toward the audience, the boy slips out through a 
cunningly contrived trap and quickly conceals himself 
under the robe of the magician, whose attitude favors 
this concealment. 

As the basket trick is the Hindoo magician's most 
wonderful offering, a truthful account of his methods of 
performing the same may be interesting. In the first 
place, Robert-Houdin's explanation is impossible and un- 
reasonable because the Hindoo magician does not wear 
flowing robes in which the child could be concealed. 
Every Hindoo performer I have ever seen wore short 
trousers and was barefooted. 

The correct method of performing the trick, which has 
been handed down through generations of Hindoos, is as 
follows: The boy subject is placed in a net in which 
he is firmly tied, after having had his big toes and thumbs 
fastened down with bandages. Then, with many a grunt 
and a groan, he is lifted into the basket. The subject, 
however, pretends that the basket is too small, so he is 
really seated on one side and keeps his back in the air. 
This is done to give the appearance eventually that it 
was impossible for him to crouch down or around the 
basket. The lid of the basket is now placed on his back, 
and a large sheet is thrown over the entire apparatus, 
which conceals from the audience every movement made 
by the subject. 

Now commences the Hindoo ^ Spatter," in reality yells, 
groans, and incantations, while the magician and his 
assistant strike the basket with swords or canes, stamp 
on the ground, gnash their teeth, etc. Gradually the 



cover of the basket sinks until the basket seems empty, to 
the spectators at least. The fakir now takes off the cover 
of the basket, leaving the sheet over it, however. Then he 
jumps into the presumably empty basket, stamps all 
around, and takes out the net in which are found the tur- 
ban worn by the subject and the thumb tie. To prove 
further that the basket is still empty, the fakir seats him- 
self in the basket, as shown in the illustration. The lid 
of the basket is now replaced, and under this friendly 
cover the sheet is taken off and the basket tied up. 

Now commences the true Hindoo magic. The magi- 
cian is a real actor. He apparently adjures Mahomet. 
tte gets very angry and with fierce looks, ejaculations, 
3-nd muttered curses he grabs up a sword or cane and 
jabs it through different parts of the basket. During all 
this time the subject, who is something of a contortion- 
ist, is wriggling about on the bottom of the basket, keep- 
ing out of reach of the sword, and in fact often guiding 
^ts thrusts between his legs, as every movement on the 
part of the fakir has been carefully thought out and 
Rehearsed in advance. 

By this time the fakir has convinced his audience that 
the basket is empty. To be sure he has not allowed any 
spectators to come too near him or the basket, nor has 
any hand save his touched it, but his clever acting almost 
persuades even an inteUigent or sceptical onlooker that 
the basket is empty. 

With the lid of the basket replaced, this time above 
the friendly sheet, and the basket tied, he resumes his 
weird incantations. He screams and runs back and 
forth, playing on a small instrument with a hideous tone 


which is a cross between the whistle of a locomotive with 
a cold, and a sawed-off and hammered-down flute in 
which has been inserted a tin whistle. As this nerve- 
racking music holds the spectators under its awful spell, 
the basket begins to rock, the contortionist-subject grad- 
ually raises himself inside the basket, and when the noise 
is at its height he straightens up in the basket and raises 
it with his back as far as it will go. To the uninitiated it 
actually appears as if he had returned to an empty basket 
in his original position. The trick is a marvellous decep- 
tion, but only a Hindoo can exhibit it with success, for 
no white person would ever indulge in the screechings, 
imbecilities, and contortions which are the spectacular 
and convincing features of the trick. 

Sometimes the trick is varied. Instead of the subject 
being found in his original position he is seen running 
toward the crowd as from a distance. This is accom- 
plished by having two subjects, one in the basket and one 
hidden on the outskirts of the crowd, who are "doubles" 
or at least who show a marked resemblance and are 
dressed exactly alike. 

The earliest programmes of Hindoo jugglers in my col- 
lection are dated 1818. The "Mr. Ramosamee" featured 
on this bill later split his name thus, "Ramo Samee," 
and was engaged to perform alone between the acts of 
"The Broken Heart" at the Garrick Theatre, London. 
From Ramo Samee, Continental and British magicians 
learned the trick of juggling brass balls. 

On page 135 Professor Hoffmann, in a foot-note, com- 
mends Robert-Houdin for the very impartial manner in 
which he approaches the question of spiritualism and 



spiritualistic manifestations, in his day a comparative 
novelty: ''In default of absolute certainty, he wisely re- 
serves his opinion. Where, however, as in the case of 
the Davenport Brothers, he had an opportunity of person- 
ally observing the alleged 'phenomena,' he has neither 
difficulty in penetrating nor hesitation in denouncing the 
imposture. We venture to believe that any of the so- 
called spiritualistic manifestations which had come under 
the test of Robert-Houdin's examination would have met 
a similar fate.'' 

With this commendation I cannot agree. Robert- 

Houdin once had all the leeway he wished at a most 

remarkable manifestation and made no attempt to hide 

the fact that he was baffled by the "phenomena." The 

"Memoirs of Marquis de Mirville " contain a Robert- 

Houdin letter in which he admits that he could find no 

explanation of tests just witnessed. The letter, trans- 

la.ted from "Die MagiedesXIX. Jahrhunderts von Uri- 

arte," 1896, published in Berlin, Germany, by Heusers 

V'erlag, is herewith quoted : "I returned from the stance 

^s greatly astonished as it was possible for me to be, and 

I a,m thoroughly convinced that it was entirely out of the 

possibility, and no chance whatever, that it was either by 

^cicident or practised trickery to produce such wonderful 

Materializations. Robert-Houdin, May i8th, 1847." 

He further shows his ignorance of seances as offered 
iJ^ his times, by his attempt to describe the methods em- 
ployed by the Davenport Brothers, to whom he devotes 
diapter XIII., which might be described as a chapter of 

These picturesque American entertainers, the Daven- 



port Brothers, hailed from Buffalo, X. Y., U. S. A. Ira 
Erastus was bom September 17th, 1839, and William 
Henr}% Februarj- ist, 1841. They fairly startled the 

world by their so-called manifestations of spiritualism 

during the 6o's, and were alternately lauded and reviled 

for their performances. 



Both were below medium height, rather handsome 
men, and, as will be seen from the accompanying engrav- 
ing, looked much alike. Their career, which started in 
America, ran from about 1853 to the early 70's. They 
made a trip to Europe in 1864, remaining until August, 
1869. Both married abroad; Ira a daughter of France, 
Mile. Louise Toulet, and William Henry a Polish girl. 
Miss Matilda Mag. On the whole, their foreign tour was 
most profitable, though in some cities they paid a high 
price for their notoriety. In England they waged bitter 
warfare with John Henry Anderson, Tolmaque, and Pro- 
fessor Redmond. 

On the occasion of their Paris opening at the Salle 
Herz they claimed that the hoodlum element mobbed 
the theatre and broke up their performance at the instiga- 
tion of Henri Robin, who was playing in opposition. 
Hamilton, who had succeeded to the management of 
Robert-Houdin's theatre, in a letter published after wit- 
nessing their initial performance announced that he shared 
this belief; but as Robert-Houdin and Henri Robin were 
bitter rivals, I believe Hamilton's letter was the result of 
two things: first the intense ill-will he harbored against 
Robin, and second, as he had Robert-Houdin as his 
mentor, he was really ignorant of the Davenport methods 
and therefore not in a position to defend them. The 
letter, which is given in full, appeared in Gazette des 
Mr angers^ Paris, September 27 th, 1865: 

'^Messrs. Davenport: Yesterday I had the pleasure of 

being present at the seance you gave, and I came away 

from it convinced that jealousy alone was the cause of 

the outcry raised against you. The phenomena pro- 
19 [289] 


duced surpassed my expectations, and your experiments 
were full of interest to me. I consider it my duty to add 
that these phenomena are inexplicable; and the more so 
by such persons as have thought themselves able to guess 
your supposed secret, and who are, in fact, far indeed 
from having discovered the truth. Hamilton." 
After their return to America the Davenport Brothers 

The cabinet trick offered by the Davenport Brothers. From an old print in the 
Harry Houdini Collection. 



retired from pubKc Kfe, purchased a farm, and rested 
on their laurels and a corpulent bank account. One 
of them is said to have admitted that all their work was 
skilful manipulation and not spiritualistic manifestations. 
Nevertheless, their names will live so long as spiritualism 
is talked of or cabinet effects tolerated by the public. 

The trick as offered by the Davenport Brothers con- 
sisted of their being tied hand and foot at opposite ends 
of the cabinet, which was hung with musical instruments, 
bells, etc. The two men slipped in and out of the ropes 
without delay or apparent damage to the ropes, and musi- 
cal instruments were played with arms presumably in 

Robert-Houdin, in attempting to expose the trick, 
makes two flagrant errors. First he claims that "by dint 
of special practice on the part of our mediums, the thumb 
is made to lie flat in the hand, when the whole aissumes 
a cylindrical form of scarcely greater diameter than the 
wrist"; and second that the Davenport Brothers had 
trained themselves to see in the dark. 

As releasing myself from fastenings of all sorts, from 

ropes to strait-jackets, has been my profession for twenty 

years, I am in a position to contradict Robert-Houdin's 

[first claim positively. I have met thousands of persons 

who claimed that the rope, as well as the handcuff trick,* 

was accomplished by folding the hand together or making 

the wrist larger than the hand, but never have I met men 

or women who could make their hands smaller than their 

wrists. I have even gone so far as to have iron bands 

made and press my hands together, hoping eventually 

to make my hands smaller than my wrists, but this has 



failed, too. Even if the entire thumb were cut away, I 
believe it would still be impossible to slip a rope that was 
properly bound around the wrist. You may take any 
cuff of the adjustable make, or a ratchet cuff, place it 
about a small woman's wrist, and you will find that even 



brothers" DAVENPORT 

Iks BROTHERS DAVEHPORT nd Kr. FAT ham the hoBonr 
t» mioanoe that, after a tofor of tiuee yean otw the greater part 
cf tte Oootinent of Europe, Obey hare retonied onoe more^ and 
foobaUy for the last tune, to thia Ketn^olii, where they will g^ve 
• few Simtm preTiona to their dqpaxtnre for tiie United Statea. 

Dnring their Eoropeaa tonr they have given Sitmem in Faru^ 
Berlin, Tlenna, Moacow, St Fetemhoig^ and nearly ereiy great 
Continental Capital; and have had the honour of appearing before 
their Mqeities the Empenoa of France and Ruaata, the Royal 
Family of PnxBsia, and great nnmbera of tiie most Diatingoidied 
Pereonagee in Europe. Many thoosanda of perMna of the higheat 
tank and intelligence have w H aeaa e d the aatniiiahing experiments 
I^Tcn in their preaenoc 

Thronghont the NoitiMn American Stal(^ from 1853 natil 
tiuir first vint to England in 1864, they wen oeen hy himdradf 
cf thooaands of peraona. 

In England, their fint 8 imt$ was i^ven in private^ to • neat 
d^ftmgoiahed .party of men of acienoe jmd letter^ who gave their 
most nnequTocal teatimooy to the excellence and perfection of 
their cxperimenta. 

Two Simtm of the Bionzia "DArxnov and Ur. Fat wQI b« 





at Sight o'eloek. 

STALLS, - 8» BALCONY, - Ss. 


Announcement used by the Davenport Brothers on their return to London, 
England, after their tour of the (Continent in April, 1868. From the Harty 
Houdini Collection. 



she will be unable to slip her wrists. I do not mean by 
this any hand-cuflf that will not come to any size, or the 
common cuflFs which when locked will lock only to a 
certain size, but I mean a cuflF that can be locked and 
adjusted to any size of wrist. 

In rope-tying, the principal trick is to allow yourself to 
be tied according to certain methods of crossing your 
hands or wrists, so that by eventually straightening your 
hands you have made enough room to allow them to slip 
out very easily. It is not always the size of the wrist that 
counts. It is the manner of holding your hands when the 
knots are being tied. 

The gift of seeing in the dark, with which Robert- 
Houdin endowed the Davenports, is equally preposterous. 
Professor Hoffmann defends Robert-Houdin by citing in- 
stances of prisoners who had been confined in cells for an 
indefinite period and who had learned to see in the dark. 
This is quite true, but they did not alternate daylight 
and darkness. Eminent opticians and oculists inform me 
that the faculty of seeing in the dark cannot be acquired 
by parties like the Davenports, who spent most of their 
time in the light. 

While the Davenports were pioneers in rope-tying and 
cabinet stances, had Robert-Houdin been the clever 
sleight-of-hand performer and inventor he claims to have 
been, these tricks would have been clear and solvable to 
him. But as he obviously joined the ranks of the amazed 
and bewildered masses, making only a futile attempt to 
explain the performances, he convicts himself of igno- 
rance regarding his own art. 

A man who has made a fortune in the world of magic 



and who desires to hand down to posterity a clean record 
of his attainments will be clever enough and manly 
enough to avoid any attempt to explain that which he 
does not understand. By his flagrant misstatements 
regarding the tricks of his predecessors and contempo- 
raries, Robert-Houdin, however, convicts himself of igno- 
rance regarding the fundamental principles of magic, and 
arouses in the minds of broad, intelligent readers doubts 
regarding his claims to the invention of the various tricks 
and automata which he declares to have been the output 
of his brain, the production of his own deft hands. 




THE charm of true memoirs lies far beyond the 
printed pages, in the depth and breadth of 
the writer's soul. The greatest of all autobi- 
ographies are those which detail not only the 
^ives of the men who penned them, but which abound in 
di^rerting anecdotes and character studies of the men and 
^^omen among whom the writer moved. They are not 
^Vitobiographies alone, but vivid, broad-minded pen- 
Pictures of the period in which the writer was a vigorous, 
^^^spect-compelling figure. Memoirs written with a view 
^^^ settling old scores seldom live to accomplish their ends, 
^t^he narrowness and pettiness of the writer, which intelli- 
gent reading of history is bound to disclose, destroy all 
^^ther charms which the book may possess. 

At personal exploitation Robert-Houdin is a brilliant 
Success. As a writer of memoirs he is a wretched failure. 
^A^henever he writes of himself, his pen seems fairly to 
Scintillate. Whenever he refers to other magicians of 
llis times, his pen lags and drops on the pages blots 
\vhich can emanate only from a narrow, petty, jeal- 
ous nature. 

Even when he writes of his own family, this peculiar 
trait of petty egotism may be read between the lines. He 
mentions the name of his son j^mile, apparently because 



the lad shared his stage triumphs. His other children he 
never mentions by name. The second wife, who, he 
grudgingly admits, stood valiantly by him in his days of 
poverty and disappointment, he does not honor by so 
much as stating her name before marriage. Rather, he 
refers to her as a person whom he was constrained to 
place in charge of his household in order that he might 
continue his experiments and his work on automata. A 
less gracious tribute to wifely devotion was never penned. 

But it is in dealing with contemporary magicians or 
those whose handiwork in bygone years he cleverly pur- 
loined and proclaimed as his original inventions, that 
the petty jealousy of the man comes to the surface. When- 
ever he desires to claim for himself credit due a prede- 
cessor in the world of magic, he either ignores the man's 
very existence or writes of his competitor in such a man- 
ner that the latter's standing as man and magician is 
lowered. Not that he makes broad, sweeping statements. 
Rather, he indulges in the innuendo which is far more 
dangerous to the party attacked. He never strikes a 
pen-blow which, because of its brutality, might arouse 
the sympathy of his readers for the object of his attack. 
Here, in the gentle art of innuendo and belittling, if not 
in the conjurer's art, Robert-Houdin is a master. 

In writing his ^* Memoirs" he deliberately ignores 
Compars Herrmann, Henri Robin, Wiljalba Frikell, M. 
Jacobs, and P. T. Barnum, all of whom he knew person- 
ally. He might have written most entertainingly of these 
men, but in each case he had an object in avoiding refer- 
ence to the acquaintance. P. T. Barnum knew the true 
history of the writing and drawing figure, as reference to 



chapter III. of this book will show. Frikell was the pioneer 

in dispensing with cumbersome stage draperies. Robert- 

Houdin claimed this innovation as the product of his own 

ingenuity. Compars Herrmann was playing in London 

when Robert-Houdin made his English debut under 

Wiljalba Frikell in his youth, showing the peculiar costume worn by con- 
I*^ere at that time. The author secured this portrait a few weeks oefore 
j!*^ell's death and sent it to the veteran conjurer, who was amazed to leam 
"Uit this print was in existence. Now in the Harry Houdini Collection. 

Mitchell's direction, and was presenting, trick for trick, 
the repertoire claimed by Robert-Houdin as original with 
Mm. Henri Robin disputed Robert-Houdin's claim to 
leaving invented the inexhaustible bottle, and proved his 
^ase, as will be seen by reference to chapter VIII. Jacobs 



was one of Anderson's cleverest imitators and a rival of 
Robert-Houdin in the English provinces. 

The adroit manner in which Robert-Houdin flays 
Pinetti, Anderson, and Bosco would arouse admiration 
were his pen-lashings devoted to men who deserved such 
treatment. Under existing circumstances — his debt to 
Bosco and Pinetti, whose tricks he filched remorselessly, 
and the fact that Andersoi.'s popularity outUved his own 
in England — his efforts to belittle these men are unw^orthy 
of one who called himself a man and a master magician. 
The truly great and successful man rises above petty 
jealousy and personalities. This, Robert-Houdin could 
not do, even when he sat pen in hand, in retirement, with 
the fear of competition removed. 

It seems almost incredible that Robert-Houdin should 
ignore Henri Robin in his "Memoirs," for Robin was one 
of the most interesting characters of that day. He still 
stands in magic's history as the Chesterfield of conjuring, 
a man of many gifts, charming address, and broad edu- 
cation. Even in his dispute with Robert-Houdin regard- 
ing the invention of the inexhaustible bottle, he never 
forgot his dignity, but proved his case by that most potent 
of arguments, a well-edited magazine pubUshed under his 
direction, in which an illustration showed him actually 
performing the trick in 1844, or a full three years before 
it appeared on Robert-Houdin's programme. 

Robert-Houdin was indebted to Robin for another 

trick, the Garde Fran9aise, introduced by Robert-Houdin 

in October, 1847. Henri Robin had precisely the same 

figure, doing precisely the same feats, in the garb of an 

Arab. An illustration from Robin's magazine, UAlma- 



nach Cagliostro, shows Robin offering this figure in March, 
1846, or a year and seven months before it was presented 
by Robert-Houdin. Yet the only reference made by 
Robert-Houdin to this popular and gifted contemporary 
is in "The Secrets of Stage Conjuring" where he remarks 
slightingly that Robin spoiled Mr. Pepper's business by 
giving a poor imitation of the latter's ghost show. 

Again, in ignoring Herrmann, he proves his narrowness 
of mind, his utter unwillingness to admit any ability in his 
rivals. Compars Herrmann was no ordinary trickster or 
mountebank, but a conjurer who remained in London 
almost a year, playing the very best houses, and later 
scoring equal popularity in the provinces. He was deco- 
rated by various monarchs and was famous for his large 
gifts to charities. Even the present generation, including 
theatre-goers and students of magic, remembers the name 
of Herrmann, when Robert-Houdin is forgotten or would 
be but for his cleverly written autobiography. 

Wiljalba Frikell, to whom should go the credit of 
cutting out heavy stage draperies, never claimed the 
innovation as a carefully planned conceit, but as an acci- 
dent. His paraphernalia were destroyed in a fire, but he 
desired to live up to his contract and give a performance 
as annoimced. He therefore offered sleight-of-hand, pure 
and simple, with the aid of a few tables, chairs, and other 
common properties which were absolutely undraped. He 
was also compelled to don regulation, severely plain, 
evening clothes. The absence of draperies, which natu- 
rally aid a conjurer in attaining results, created so pleasing 
a sensation that Frikell never again draped his stage 
nor wore fancy raiment. Had Robert-Houdin told the 



truth about his so-called innovation, he must have given 
Frikell credit, wherefore he conveniently ignores Frikell 

It is entirely characteristic of Robert-Houdin that he 
did not openly assail Pinetti in the pages of his "Mem- 
oirs." With cleverness worthy of a better cause, he quotes 
the bitter verbal attack as issuing from the lips of the 
friend and mentor of his youth, Signor Torrini. 

The major portion of chapter VI., pages 92 to 104 
inclusive, American edition of his autobiography, is de- 
voted to assailing Pinetti's abilities as a conjurer and his 
reputation as a man. Granted that Pinetti did put Tor- 
rini to shame on the Neapolitan stage, such revenge for 
a wholesale duplication of the magician's tricks might be 
termed almost human and natural. Had a minor magi- 
cian, amateur or professional, dogged the footsteps of 
Robert-Houdin, copying his tricks, the entire repertoire 
upon which he depended for a livelihood, thus endanger- 
ing his future, I doubt that even the author of 'Confi- 
dences d'un Prestidigitateur'' would have hesitated to un- 
mask and undo his rival. 

In fact, by reference to the editorial note, foot of page 
421, American edition of Robert-Houdin's ** Memoirs," 
it will be seen that in 1850 Robert-Houdin appealed to 
the law for protection in just such a case. An employee 
was sent to prison for two years, as judgment for selling 
to an amateur some of his master's secrets. 

But in attacking Pinetti, Robert-Houdin goes a step 

too far and falsifies, not directly but by innuendo, when 

he permits the impression to go forth that Pinetti was 

hounded and ruined both financially and professionally 



by Torrini, as is set forth on page 104. He pictures 
Torrini as dogging the footsteps of Pinetti through all 
Italy and finally driving him in a state of abject misery 
to Russia, where he died in the home of a nobleman, who 
sheltered him through sheer compassion. Robert-Houdin 

Bartolomeo Bosoo in his prime. From an engraving in the Harry Houdini 


must have known this was absolutely untrue, for he 
quotes Robertson, who published Pinetti's true experi- 
ences in Russia. Pinetti took a fortune with him to 
Russia, acquired more wealth there, and then lost his 



entire financial holdings through his passion for balloon 
experiments, as is set forth in chapter II. of this book. 

Then, to show his own inconsistency, after picturing 
Pinetti in his " Memoirs" as a charlatan, a conjurer of vul- 
gar, uncouth pretensions rather than as a good showman 
of real ability, Robert-Houdin is forced to admit on page 
25 of "Secrets of Magic" that later conjurers employed 
Pinetti programmes as a foundation upon which their 
performances were built! Even here, however, Robert- 
Houdin fails to acknowledge an iota of the heavy debt 
which he personally owed the despised Chevalier Pinetti. 

Robert-Houdin devotes the greater part of chapter X., 
American edition of his autobiography, to belittling Bos- 
co, a conjurer whose popularity all over Europe was long- 
lived. First, he pictures Bosco as a most cruel creature who 
literally tortured to death the birds used in his perform- 
ances. Here, as in his attack on Pinetti, Robert-Houdin 
throws the responsibility for criticism on the shoulders of 
another. His old friend Antonio accompanies him to 
watch Bosco's performance, and it is Antonio throughout 
the narrative who inveighs against Bosco's cruelty and 
Antonio who insists upon leaving before the performance 
closes, because the cruelty of the conjurer nauseates him. 

At that time no society for the protection of animals 
existed, and, even if it had, I doubt whether Bosco's 
performance would have come under the ban. Certain 
magicians of to-day employ many of Bosco's tricks in 
which birds and even small animals are used, but the 
conjuring is so deftly done that the public of 1907, like 
that of 1838, thinks it is all sleight-of-hand work and that 
the birds are neither hurt nor killed. Even in Bosco's 



time the bird trick was not in his repertoire exclusively. 
All English magicians employed it. Apparently the head 
of the fowl was amputated, but often in reality it was 
tucked under the wing, and the head and neck of another 
fowl was shown by sleight-of-hand. Quite probably the 
Parisian public did not consider Bosco cruel. Robert- 
Houdin and his friend Antonio, being versed in sleight- 
of-hand and conjuring methods, read cruelty between the 
deft movements. Certain it is that the name of Bosco 
has not been handed down to posterity by other writers 
as a synonym of cruelty. 

The animus of Robert-IToudin's attack on Bosco is 
evident at every point of the narrative. Now he accuses 
him of bad taste in appearing in the box-office. Again he 
suggests that the somewhat impressive opening of Bosco's 
act savors of both charlatanism and burlesque, when in 
reality the secret of showmanship consists not of what 
you really do, but what the mystery-loving public thinks 
you do. Bosco undoubtedly secured precisely the effect 
he desired, because Robert-Houdin devotes more than a 
page to a most unnecessary attempt to explain away what 
he considered Bosco's undeserved popularity. 

Bosco was not only a clever magician, but a man of 
many adventures, so that his life reads like a romance. 
This soldier of fortune, Bartolomeo Bosco, was born of 
a noble Piedmont family, on January nth, 1793, in Turin, 
Italy. From boyhood he showed great ability as a nec- 
romancer, but at the age of nineteen he was forced to 
serve under Napoleon I. in the Russian campaign. He 
was a fusilier in the Eleventh Infantry, and at the battle 
of Borodino was injured in an engagement with Cossacks. 



Pierced by a lance, he lay upon the ground apparently 
dead. A Cossack callously roamed among the dead and 
dying, rifling pockets and belts. When he came to the 
form of Bosco, that youth feigned death, knowing that 
resistance to the ghoul meant a death wound. But while 
the Cossack robbed the Italian soldier, the latter stealthily 
raised his unwounded arm and by sleight-of-hand rifled 
the well-filled pockets of the ghoul, which fact was not 
discovered by the Cossack until he was far from the field 
of the dead and dying, where he had left one of the enemy 
considerably better off, thanks to Bosco's conjuring gifts. 
Later Bosco was sent captive to Siberia, where he per- 
fected his sleight-of-hand while amusing fellow-prisoners 
and jailers. In 1 8 14 he was released and returned to his 
native land, where he studied medicine, but eventually 
decided to become a public entertainer. He was not only 
a clever entertainer, but a good business man, and he 
planned each year on saving enough money to insure a 
life of ease in his old age. But events intervened to ruin 
all his well-laid plans. The sins of his youth brought 
their penalty. An illegitimate son, Eugene, became a 
heavy drag upon the retired magician, who was com- 
pelled to pay large sums to the young man in order to 
prevent his playing in either France or Germany or as- 
suming the name of Bosco. In a German antiquary's 
shop at Bonn on the Rhine I found an agreement in 
which Bosco agreed to pay this youth five thousand 
francs for not using the name of Bosco. This agreement 
is too long for reproduction in this volume, but unques- 
tionably it is genuine and tells all too eloquently the 
troubles which beset Bosco in his old age. 



Eugene was said to be the superior of his famous father 
in sleight-of-hand, but he was wild and given to excesses. 
Women and wine checked what might have been a brill- 
iant professional career. Disabled, poverty-stricken, and 

Only photograph of Madame Bosco, given to the author by Mrs. Mueller, 
Madame Bosco's niece, at the funeral of Wiljalba Frikell. 

respected by none, he soon disappeared from the con- 
juring world, and according to Carl Willman in the 
^^Zauberwelt" he died miserably in Hungary in 1891. 

In the mean time, Bosco and his wife lived in poverty 
in Dresden, where the once brilliant conjurer died March 
20 [305] 


2nd, 1863. His wife died three years later and was interred 
in the grave with her husband in a cemetery on Frie- 
drichstrasse. There was nothing on the tombstone to indi- 
cate the double interment, and I discovered the fact only 
by investigating the municipal and cemetery records. 

The author at the grave of Bosco. From a photograph in the Harry Houdini 


Here I also learned that the grave had merely been 
leased, and as the lease was about to expire the bones of 
the great conjurer and his faithful wife might soon be 
disinterred and reburied in a neglected corner of the 



graveyard devoted to the poor and unclaimed dead. To 
prevent this, I purchased the lot and tombstone, and 
presented the same to the Society of American Magicians, of 
which organization, at the present writing, I am a member. 

A man of noble birth and brilliant attainments was the 
original Bosco, and his name became a by-word all over 
the Continent as the synonym, not of cruelty, but of clever 
deception, yet never has posterity put the name of a great 
performer to such ignoble uses. For who has not heard 
the cry of the modem Bosco, "Eat-'em-alive''? 

To-day I can close my eyes and summon two visions. 
First I see myself standing bareheaded before a neglected 
grave in the quiet cemetery on Friedrichstrasse, Dresden, 
the simlight pouring down upon the tombstone which bears 
not only the cup-and-balls and wand, insignia of Bosco's 
most famous trick, but this inscription: "Ici repose le 
c61febre Bartolomeo Bosco. — N6 h Turin le ii Janvier, 
1793; d€c€d6 k Dresden le 2 Mars, 1863.'' The history 
of this clever conjurer, with all its lights and shadows, 
sweeps before me like a mental panorama. 

The second vision carries me into the country, to the 
fairs of England and the side-shows of America : 

"Bosco! Bosco! Eat-'em-alive Bosco. You can't af- 
ford to miss this marvel. Bosco! Bosco!'' 

Follow me into the enclosure and gaze down into a 
den. There lies a half-naked human being. His hair 
is long and matted, a loin cloth does wretched duty as 
clothing. Tom sandals are on his feet. The eulogistic 
lecturer dilates upon the powers of this twentieth-century 
Bosco, but you do not listen. Your fascinated gaze is 
fixed on various hideous, wriggling, writhing forms on 



the floor of the den. Snakes — scores of them! Now the 
creature, half-animal, half-human, glances up to make 
sure that attention is riveted upon him, then grasps one 
of the serpents in his hideous hands and in a flash bites 
off its head. The writhing body falls back to the ground. 

You grip the railing in a sudden faintness. Has your 
brain deceived your eyes, or your eyes your brain? If 
you are a conjurer you try to convince yourself that it is 
all a clever sleight-of-hand exhibition, but in your heart 
you know it is not true. This creature, so near a beast, 
has debauched his manhood for a few paltry dollars, 
and in dragging himself down has dragged down the 
name of a worthy, a brilliant, a world-famous performer. 

Of the twentieth-century Boscos there are, alas, many. 
You will find them all over the world, in street carnivals, 
side-shows, fair-booths, and museums, and why the public 
supports such debasing exhibitions I have never yet been 
able to understand. I have seen half -starved Russians 
pick food from refuse-barrels. I have seen besotted 
Americans creep out from low dives to draw the dregs 
of beer-barrels into tomato cans. I have seen absinthe 
fiends in Paris trade body and soul to obtain their be- 
loved stimulant. I have heard morphine fiends in Russia 
promise to exhibit the effect of the needle in return for 
the price of an injection. But never has my soul so risen 
in revolt as at sight of this bestial exhibition with which 
the name of Bosco, a nobleman and a conjurer of merit, 
has been linked. 

Even more despicable than his attack upon Bosco is 
Robert-Houdin's flaying of John Henry Anderson. In 
this he is both unmanly and untruthful. Hinging his 



Will be Opened on TUE80A7, Oeo. aeth, 




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mu to itimM «M • rii»«iml Tm An*^ UKMARK. fSORVAT. SWiDMI. Il(«l«. parvi*. ul OnHMT. ul !•< «* 


On TUESDAY EVSNINO, Deo. Beth, 1848, 

miii liiiiiliiffiiiiT, 

in* IHr^iiMl i««JK>TT »Jl'14ii|-u J Kr.trij. •, -i-r, bi r~»»< ^> <h, u,— b s.—. -i.*,4 iM -v 4 Pit l^r-il ih^im ' 
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»■• RM-lm l»v|*il.|.K (mMiK»HLIi IKJTTLK .M MVdTIC 
V*liaLL«>«k.>!K AM.MATbD - NOl CHOIB.- 

I' [lihG ILA>[ M L U l* SciEMTincr wn\|iiE.K3 
• fAm II. 

8EC0V9 8I0HT; iU Falkey fllutntcd. 



fie leaned Doyet, the Broken Biag, Diaolviag 
Orange, and Snehanted Walut. 

CnU) of the AIB; «r, "Jack ia the Bez." 

The HAOIO BAli,Jl FUhuic aztrawdiaary. 

EiTMonnAiir iiECTir eveinieit, 

TkM of fUf dIX VATCHlJl ik>OT(li m; Om-Um*-! Bilt 

flrand K>T-ro raM"ef HAH BKEBOHIErg. 

Tkt skd* MMWIrii •ilk ite LA!«T >EW WOKCU «f 


(B; HhM iORil HS:«>Y ANOEBWii) 
ll>«ll<w«kMSMMM>k>M«lMnin «f CM»t««— ■ wa wM •• 
^■.4 k>m u >Wr. B. >di iWn 4i>rU) ib> Eurax«unr CAM rf -kt 
Ih-c «kirk ku k>arf Ik* •k«l' €i ib> H>4«il PnfcHin aT Bwu 
fn^ Otni*i7. -i .Tw»CM«.r, -i-i P-fc— . iKDEMiW k~ 
mrxlf mud. THF. IHIID «IL 

Anderson's opening programme at tiie Strand Theatre, Christmas week, 
1848, showing that he duphcated the tricks offered by Robert-Houdin, who, 
in his "Memoirs," claims that Anderson's programme was stale and uninter- 
esting by comparison with his own. 



attack on his surprise at the press methods and adver- 
tising adopted in England as opposed to the less spectac- 
ular means employed in France, he insinuates that An- 
derson's entire success was built not upon merit, ability, 
originaKty, or diversified programmes, but solely upon 
sensational advertising. On page 325 of the American 
edition of his "Memoirs " Robert-Houdin writes thus of 
his competitor: 

"On my arrival in England a conjurer of the name of 
Anderson, who assumed the title of Great Wizard of the 
North, had been performing for a long period at the 
little Strand Theatre. 

"This artist, fearing, doubtlessly, that public atten- 
tion might be divided, tried to crush the publicity of my 
performances; hence he sent out on London streets a 
cavalcade thus organized: 

"Four enormous carriages, covered with posters and 
pictures representing all sorts of witchcraft, opened the 
procession. Then followed four-and-twenty merry men, 
each bearing a banner on which was painted a letter a 
yard in height. 

"At each cross-road the four carriages stopped side by 
side and presented a bill some twenty-five yards in 
length, while all the men (I should say letters), on receiv- 
ing the word of command, drew themselves up in a line, 
like the vehicles. 

"Seen in front the letters formed this phrase: 

While on the other side of the banners could be read: 




Neue iind avsserordeiitliehe 


int Gebiete der 

mit Hiilfe der Experimental -Phjsik, Mechanik, 
Electricitat, Hjdraulik iind des GalvanismuSy 

gegebei von dem 
irrossen nordlschen Zauberer 

Professor 9% 91^ Jl^Slif^l^S^^^lfl aus London 

bekannt in England unter dem Namen: 


Herr ProfeMor Anderson schmeichelt sfcb mit der Hoiniang, dass seine ProdncUo- 
die ehrendsle Anerltennnng fanden. sich aucb der neiinahme des liiesigen liocliverelirliclieji 
Pttbllttunis erfrenen irerden. 


Erste Abtheilung: 

1. Zwei fliehemle S^^hnnpftiicher. 

2. Die wanderbare Miihie und der ge1eb{f« Agy]iUer. 

3. Eia neues Zanbenpiel, gcnaont die aauerordentlicbe Metamorpboic. 

4. Der Todle wird tebend, der Lebeade stirbt. (Ncu.) 
3. Ein schaell subereitetes Friibstuck. 

(. Zum Erttennale! AuMerordentliches Experiment: Herr ProFetsor Audbrwr wird C Uhren 
dnrcb den KSrper. einea der Aoweaenden pasairen lassen, ohne data deraelbe Indi- 
' geationen bekoinnit 

7. Ein groaac* MaiiOver mit 12 Scbnapniicbem. 

8. Aoa dem Hole irgend einea Anwesenden entwickein aich anf den Wink dea groafen 
° Zaubrera Tanaende von BIomen-Boaquetts, Tau«ende von Flaggta aller Nalionen, 

Sebniiren, Pnppen ecL aowie tin Tolletandigea zweiachlafrige* FederbeU. 

Zweite Abtbeilung: 

I. Banknoten and Treuaaiacbe Thaleracb«^ine halten die Fruerprobe 
2- Die geheraame Flaaebe. 

3. Die aprecbenden and Unzenden Tbaler. 

4. Daa Waaaer wird lebend. 

5. Die achnelle Waacbe. Ein giiter Rath flir anerfahme II«|iamii(ter. 
C Die iigyptiaeben Wonder. 

Preise der PIfttset 

Erster Platz 16 Ggr. Zweiler Plate 8 Ggr. Gallerie 4 Ggr. 

€}assen-Oeflrnung 6 Uhr. Anfang 7 Our. 

Eotree- Billets siod am Tage der Vorslellung ini Balihofs-Saale bei 
Herni Evers, zu erhalten. 

Handbill used by Anderson in Grermany. January, 1848, when Robert- 
Houdin claimed that he was playing in the English provinces. From the 
Harry Houdini Collection. 



"Unfortunately for the Wizard, his performances were 
attacked by a mortal disease; too long a stay in London 
had ended by producing satiety. Besides, his repertory 
was out-of-date, and could not contend against the new 
tricks which I was oiBfering. What could l^e present to 
the public in opposition to the second sight, the suspen- 
sion, and the inexhaustible bottle ? Hence he was obliged 
to close his theatre and start for the provinces, where he 
managed, as usual, to make excellent receipts, owing to his 
powerful means of notoriety/' 

In the first place, Robert Houdin insinuates that when 
they played in opposition John Henry Anderson's reper- 
toire was stale and uninteresting. Is it possible that 
Robert-Houdin could not read Anderson's bills, or were 
his statements deliberate falsehoods, emanating from a 
malicious, wilful desire to injure Anderson ? 

What did Anderson have to oiBfer in opposition to Robert- 
Houdin's much-vaunted Suspension, Second Sight, and 
Inexhaustible Bottle ? Consult the Anderson programme, 
reproduced, and you will find that the great Wizard of the 
North duplicated the French conjurer's repertoire. "The 
Ethereal Suspension" of Robert-Houdin's programme 
was " Suspension Chloroforeene " on Anderson's. Second 
Sight appeared on both bills. ' ' The Inexhaustible Bottle ' ' 
had wisely been dropped by Anderson because he had 
been using it in one form or another for ten years preced- 
ing the date of Robert-Houdin's appearance in I^ondon, 
as is proven in chapter IX. of this book. 

Therefore, if Anderson's programme was passe and 
uninteresting, so also must have been the one offered by 





ASTOiimic uiBiss nsTsmiiflS. 

in*.:-* I ti^Lt T-i HI r 

_flW WIIBEU m ! 

VhlM 1£t«bIbJ|% ^iTHEFj 

.U^n « ^^ « ifa *>tw P^i« ^w h M « 

Hi hchaiited'-' 

. ■ A H II El J> F H 

CARDic >iik «• AHiiuTu - mn 

. »id> i i IXOH'tOirm tCBAP KMC . 


Ite ■T 8TI0 UlA lfiaT. 



tr tto IIB: «. **JkA ii ttt I 
CliriAV av BIABLB. 

l.H T If J C W 11 s M e: K h 

8B00BB BI 8BT; iU M lwy ffliUnm. 

Onai NtWgiBI ff lABBIIBCIIBni 

zz: _, I 


■• «• MM kii •» » HMr • Man PMltM if ' 

■MM* <WM<. THS ClilLD «Ul *Ufr tM THE Alt. W 

onx nrmt * ««wi»« wica. 

Poster used by Anderson during his closing week at the Strand Theatre, 
London, January lltii, 1848. From the Harry Houdini Collection. 



Second, John Henry Anderson was not in London 
when Robert-Houdin arrived there in May, 1848. He 
was on the Continent, and a bill reproduced will show 
that he was in Germany in January, 1848, and did not 
open at the Strand Theatre until December 26th, 1848. 
Then it was Robert-Houdin who had just returned from 
the provinces, not Anderson. Anderson had been play- 
ing the capitals of Europe. Robert-Houdin had been in 
Manchester, England. 

Robert-Houdin again skilfully twists the truth to suit 
his own ends. He actually states that Anderson, return- 
ing from a tour of the provinces, used a new poster, a 
caricature of the famous painting, "Napoleon's Return 
from Elba": 

"In the foreground Anderson was seen affecting the 
attitude of the great man; above his head fluttered an 
enormous banner bearing the words ^The Wonder of 
the World'; while, behind him and somewhat lost in the 
shade, the Emperor of Russia and several other monarchs 
stood in a respectful posture. As in the original picture, 
the fanatic admirers of the Wizard embraced his knees, 
while an immense crowd received him triumphantly. 
In the distance could be seen the equestrian statue of 
the Iron Duke, who, hat in hand, bowed before him, the 
Great Wizard; and lastly, the very dome of St. Paul's 
bent towards him most humbly. 

"At the bottom was the inscription, 

Return of the Napoleon or Necromancy. 

"Regarded seriously, this picture would be found a 
puff in very bad taste; but as a caricature it is excessively 



comic. Besides, it had the double result of making the 
London public laugh and bringing a great number of 
shillings into the skilful puffcr^s pockets/* 
Reference to my collection of Anderson programmes 

£ugf;ne Bosco, son of tht- original Bcisco, Fmm the Unrty Houclini 

and press clippings proves that while on the Continent 
his performances had created such a sensation that, 
according to the ethics and etiquette of his profession^ 
Anderson was quite justified in assuming the title of '*The 
Napoleon of Necromancy " and in depicting even kings 



and noblemen admiring his abilities as a conjurer. But, 
alas, Robert-Houdin had played only before English and 
French monarchs, not before the other crowned heads of 
Europe, including the Czar of Russia and the German 

It required weeks and months of browsing in old book- 
and print-shops, national libraries, and rare collections on 
my part to prove that Anderson had really played these 
engagements, when his bitter rival, Robert-Houdin, his 
heart eaten with jealousy until his sense of honor and 
truth was hopelessly blunted, was claiming that Anderson 
had just returned from a trip in the English provinces. 

It will be noted by reference to the Anderson pro- 
gramme that he had been engaged only for the Christmas 
holidays, but despite Robert-Houdin's claim that he was 
a failure and was obliged to close and seek new fields of 
conquest in the provinces, Anderson's engagement was 
extended. He remained at the Strand until January 
nth, 1848, then after a brief provincial tour he actually 
returned to London and played to big receipts. Again 
and again he appeared in London. Far from being the 
unpopular, forgotten ex-magician pictured by Robert- 
Houdin, he performed with great success at the St. James 
Theatre, London, in 185 1. Robert-Houdin appeared in 
London for the last time in 1853, but in 1865 ^^the de- 
spised and forgotten Anderson" was there again, creating 
a furor in his exposure of the Davenport Brothers. 

Robert-Houdin might have been justified in criticising 
Anderson's sensational advertising methods, for these 
were entirely opposed to the more elegant and conserva- 
tive methods employed by the French conjurer. But 



certainly he was not justified in picturing his rival as 
one who had passed his prime, whose popularity had 
waned, whose repertoire no longer attracted the public. 

John Henry Anderson as he appeared in his later years. From a cut 
in the Harry Houdini Collection, 

For, in addition to duplicating Robert-Houdin's entire re- 
pertoire, Anderson oiBfered tricks of which Robert-Houdin 
knew nothing, and for years to come he constantly recon- 



structed his programmes, keeping them strictly up-to- 

Anderson did die a poor man, but this was not because 
the amusement-loving pubhc had wearied of him. A 
popular performer, Hke so many of his class he did not 
know how to invest his huge earnings. It is known that 
he gave $20,000 to various charities, while no record 
of Robert-Houdin's charities exists. He was burned 
out several times. He lost money through a bad con- 
tract made for his Australian tour. Certain investments 
dropped in value because of the Civil War in the United 
States, during which England sympathized with the South. 
Finally, during his American tour after the Civil War, 
Anderson played the Southern States, then steeped in 
bitterness toward the North, and was unfortunate enough 
to bill himself as '' The Great Wizard of the North." This 
roused the Southern prejudice to white heat, he was al- 
most mobbed, and was finally driven from that section 
of the country. He went into bankruptcy, November 
19th, 1866, and died at Darlington, County Durham, 
England, Feb. 3rd, 1874. His remains were interred, in 
accordance with his dying request, at Aberdeen, Scotland. 

So ends the true history of Robert-Houdin. The mas- 
ter-magician, unmasked, stands forth in all the hideous 
nakedness of historical proof, the prince of pilferers. 
That he might bask for a few hours in public adulation, 
he purloined the ideas of magicians long dead and buried, 
and proclaimed these as the fruits of his own inventive 
genius. That he might be known to posterity as the king 
of conjurers, he sold his birthright of manhood and honor 
for a mere mess of pottage, his '^Memoirs," written by 



the hand of another man, who at his instigation behttled 
his contemporaries, and juggled facts and truth to further 
his egotistical, jealous ambitions. 

But the day of reckoning is come. Upon the history 
of magic as promulgated by Robert-Houdin the search- 
light of modern investigation has been turned. Credit 
has been given where it belongs, to those magicians who 
preceded Robert-Houdin and upon whose abilities and 
achievements Robert-Houdin built his unearned, un- 
merited fame. The dust of years has been swept from 
names long forgotten, which should forever shine in the 
annals of magic. 

Thus end, also, my researches, covering almost two 
decades of time, researches in which my veneration for 
old-time magicians grew with each newly discovered bit 
of history; researches during which my respect for the 
profession of magic has grown by leaps and bounds. And 
the fruits of these researches I now lay before the only 
true jury, the great reading public. My task is finished. 


Phillippe, Reproduction of Paste! Portrait ...*..*...,.*....... 

Pinchbeck, Jn^ Chrislopher, A Very Rare Mezzotint, . , 

Pinchbeck, Sr. ,....,.., 

Pinetti Clipping of 1 784 

Pinelti, I. h. Portrait of ,...-.,,._, , . , 

Pinetti, I. I., Woodcut Used in 1706, ..,,...., , . , . 

Pinetti'i; Autograph * , , . 

P*netti's Book Frontispiece .,....,,.,♦*--♦---'-'--*-.---'-*' 

Porta, John Baptists ..,*...*....... 

Poster of the Learned Goose . , 

Poster Used for Benefit of de Philipsthal, 1829. . , 

Programmes and Posters Reproduced, 36* 37, 39, 40, 42, 43^ 44, 81, 
102, 103^ to4> loS, 110, III, 113, 114, ii8t I30, i2ii 125, 132, 
147, 150, 151, 154. i55p 156, 161, 167, 170, 173, 183, 183. 184, 
iRR, 189, igit 192, t96t J97t ^04* 206* 21a, 214^ 215, 216, aio, 
221, 223, 224, 231. 232. 234, 242, 253, 254, 255p 256, 258, 261, 

2 6tJ, 272, 2S2, 2 S3, 292^ 3091 31 I - * - ....*...* 

Rannin Lithograph* Showing Him Doing Sword -Walking Act. , . . 

Robin , Henri .,,►...*....►.. 

Robin* M. and Mme., iti Second Sight , ..,.,,..,....,,.... 

Samee, Ratno. Handbill 

Savren, James, Poster Us^ed by» in 1855, , .... ^ , 

Schmidt Programme Used in 1 827 ;........,.,... 

Schmidt Poster. <........,.*..,..;.......,..'....... 

Schmid t Programme of 1 82 j .... t ....--..**.-. 1 

Suspentiion Chloriforeene Lithograph 

Thiodon Bill of 182 5 , . , . 

Testot, Programme Ftfaturing Cabalistic Art in 1826. ..*...., . 

Testot Rare Handbill Printed about tRoo 

Water Spouter. ............ 

Water Spouter and Juggler. 

White, John . . 

Whole Art of Legerdemain* Frontispiece from Ingleby'ff Book . . 

Wiegleb's Diagram of Orange-Tree Trick. . , , 

Witgeest's, Simon, Frontispiece from Book of Natural Magic, 1682 
Writing and Drawing Figure from Manning's Robert-Houdin 


^ounj?, E, W,, Lithograph?: 


Adelphia Theatre 

Advertisement from the Lon- 
don Daily Post during 1730 
showing the Orange Tree 
as Offered by the Senior 

Album des Soirees 

Alexander the Conjurer 

Alexander the Conjurer, Illus- 

Allen, Prof. George 

Althotas 251, 

American Magicians, Society 

Anatomie of Legerdemain . . . 

Anciens et Xouveaux Tours 

Anderson and Son Lithograph 
presenting ' ' Suspension 
Chloriforeene " 

Anderson Billing of 1838. . . 

Anderson's Book Cover-de- 

Anderson Handbill used in 
Hannover, Germany 

Anderson, J. H., 14, 23, 25, 

119, 131, 

Anderson, J. H., Lithograph, 

Anderson, J. H., Portrait of 
Wife and Son 

Anderson, J. H., Very Rare 
Poster used in 1838, 147, 


256 185,191,233,235,289,297, 

Anderson, Mrs. Hannah 146 

Anderson, Mrs. Leona A., as 
she Appeared in the Sus- 

55 pension Trick 236 

217 Anderson Poster, 

233 154, 309. 311. 3^3 
Anderson Window Poster Ex- 

240 posing Barney Eagle 155 

267 Announcement used by Dav- 
252 enport Brothers 292 

Antonio 302 

307 Apple-tree Trick 51 

180 Appleby's Weekly 55 

Arts, Manufactures and 
279 Mines, Dictionary of 91 

Astley, Philip, Esq., An His- 
torical Circus Director .... j 9 

234 Astley, Philip, Esq., Portrait 

150 of 19 

Astor Library 241 

148 Astronomic Musical Clock. . . 55 
Aufschliisse zur Magie, Repro- 

311 duction of an Illustration. 169 
Autograph and Portrait, 

145 Pierre Jacquet-Droz 92 

Autograph of Decremps, .... 75 

317 Automata, Two Elegant. ... 172 
Automaton Chess Player, 266, 267 

146 Automaton Trapeze 166 

Automaton Writer of Jac- 
quet-Droz 96 


Balsamo, Joseph. , ^50 

Bamberg , ... 235 

Bamuni^ P. T.. , .43, 85, 241, 296 

Bamuiti, R 1\, Portrait of, . 86 

Barrelj The Inexhaustibk. , . 180 
Bartholomew Fair Memoirs; , 

by Modey. . .. ..... . . . 16 

Basch, Ernst. . , . . , 4v^ J38 

Basch, Ernst, and Le Confi- 

seur Galant, Photog^raph , 139 

Basket Trick, Indian . . 376, 377 
Basket Trick, Indian Boy* ih 

lustration ...... 3y<} 

Batuta, Ian ... 226 

Beckett, Mr. . 3irj 

B^ckmann ,,...,,, , . 2 1 r 

Beckmann's, John, Histur)^ o( 

InventioHi^and I>iiJCQ%^eries5 

Publi^hetl in T7Q- 14 

Bell Trick 242 

Benton , . . 143 

Berthoud',s Treatise on 

Clockmaking :^$ 

Bertram* Charles _ 16 

Bertram, Charles » Purtmn *4 10 
Billing u^etl by MysteriuLts 

Lady. .,,.....,.....,,.. 215 
Billing used for the dog^ Don 

Carlos, .♦.,.,. 23 r 

Biography, XMctianary of 


Bosco. ,,*,,,-.. 335 » jij8. 303, 30 J 
BoscOj Bartolomeo^ Photo- 
engraving of ♦ . . t , , 30 

Bosco's Grave, Photograph of 306 
Bosco, Madame* Photogmph 

of ,,..,.,. 305 

Bottle, Inexhaustible, 176. 

iSi, iS4t iSf), TJRfi» 105,722 
Botlle, Infernal, Poster userl 

by Phillippe 1 84 
Bottle, Magic, nja 
Bottle of Sobriety and in- 
ebriety.,.. 182 

Bottle, Travelling- 185 

Box, Cr\^3taL . , . . . . . . 323 

Brahmin Suspeniiion Illus- 
tration* ......*,.,..,.... a 2^ 

Breslaw ,23^ t43» 165, 209, 221 
Breslaw, Book on Magic, 

Frontispiece t>f 144 

Breslaw Lithograph . , . , . [64 
Breslaw, Triple Colored Lith- 
ograph of. .,.,,..,..,... 164 
Brewster, Sir David ... - 181 
Brick-mason Macailister ., 1^3 
Britten \^ Clock and Watch 

Maker. 56 

Broken Heart, The. ........ 386 

Buck, Only Kntiwii Por- 
trait 357 

Buck Handbill 2f^i 

National. . 4 .,♦.,..*.**- - 54 

Bismarck. 7 Cabalistic Art featured ^yn 

Blackstofie ..,,...... 7 Marriott Programme . _ 

Blitz, Signor, ,....., 14, 235, ^67 Cabalis^tic Art featured on 

Bhtz, Signur Antonio, Por- Testot Programme. ..... 

trait of . i i *.,.,,,,,,.... . iS Cabalistic or Obedient Clock, 

Boax 23 1 56- 

Boltn, T. .44;, j6j Cabinet Trick offered by 

Bologna. ..,,,., 116 DavenjKjrt Brothers 

Bologna Bill of 181 3 1 70 Cabinet Trick Print ,....,.. 

Bologna Pos^ter i iS Cagliostro. . . .72, 250, 2^2, 

^^^ ^^1 



CagH<»^tro, Comtes>:3 de, rare 

Clipping from the London 


Pt^rtrait . . . , 


Telegraph in March* i S 1 j , 


Cagliostro* I'Almanaeh 


Clock and Watch Maker. 

Cagliostro, Pastel Pt^rtrRit of 




Calhoun , . , 


Clocks Astronomic Musical, 

166 ^H 

Canl in the Pocket 

Clock Pedestal ....,_,_, 

Card Trick a,s featured b)' 

Clock Trick, Diagram Ex- 


Anderson in 1856-1837. . 


1 K>ses ....._,-. 


Capd>, The Obedient. ... 141- 


Clockmaking, B e r t h u d 's 


Can^ly's L'lUiisionniste. ., 


Treati^ on ... 


Caslinia» Sieur , . , 


Confectioner's Shop, ..,.,.. 
Confidences d'un Prestidigiia- 


Cent It r}" of Invention}^. .... * 

2il I 

Charles , _ ...... t j6. 


teur ... , 


CharJe!^ Pointer dated abtmt 

Confidence et Revelations 


iBii}. ........ 


Conjurer Unmasked, The, 


Ches-^ Congress, Book of First 

74. 75' 


American ...,,,, 


Conjurer*s Pocket. The 


Chfeiss Player, Autumatoni 266* 


Comment on De^nt Sorcier 


Chinese Trick, Reproduction 

Cook, the Pastry, of the 

qI an Engraving 


Palais Royal . . . . . 116 

17J ^1 

Ching Lau Lauro Susi>ension 


Comillol,, ...,.,,. . . . _ 2j 


Ching Laii Lnurn Programme 


Comiltot Handbill 


Ching Ling Fun, .......... 


Count Pererilli .... 


i^hloriforeene Suspension. - . . 


Co urse f E x j)eri m e n t , 1 1 I^ h i - 


Chlf jfif^ treene Suspension. 

losophy . 


Lithograph , , 


Creation of Flowers 


Chronkle. The , 


Ci^-stal Balls, 


Circus Diret:lor Astley 


Crystal Box 


CiriLUA Life and Circus Celeb- 

Cupid. The Figure of. as ex- 




ecuted by the Drtjz Draw- 


Clay, Henry, 


ing Figure 


Clayton, Sir William 



CHpping from Newspaper fea- 

Dale, E. J 


turing Pinel ti. Second Sight 

3 10 

Daven|K»rt Brothers* 


(^lipping from Newspaper of 

149, 387, 289^ 2f)J, 


Jacquel-Droz ....,...,., 

10 I 

D a venport B ro t hers . An- 


Clipping from Newspaper of 
Kallerfelto, from i 782 

nouncement of. .......... 



Davenport Brothers, Cabinet 

cupping from the London 

Trick of 


Daily Post of Nov. 30, 

Davenport Brothers, Phot**- 


1728^ used by Christopher 

graphs of, , 


Pinchbeck ,. 


Dean, Hen^v^ 






Decremps, Henri, 35, 52, 74, 
143, 168, 175, 211, 

Decremps, Portrait of 

Decremps's Signature 

De Liska 

De Philipsthal. . 1 10, 171, 173, 

De Philipsthal Poster 

De Philipsthal, Programme 
of Benefit of 

De Philipsthal Programme 
of 1806 

Der Modeme Zauberer 

Desaguliers, Dr 

Diagram Exposes the Magic 
Clock Trick 

Diagram o f Orange -tree 

Diavolo, Antonio 

Dictionary of Arts, Manufac- 
tures and Mines 

Dictionary of National Biog- 

Disappearing Handkerchief, 


Dobler, 25, 45, 182, 185, 187, 

DObler, Ludwig, Rare Por- 
trait of 187, 

D5bler Programmes. 18S, 18.9, 

Dom Pedro 

Don Carlos, Billing used by . . 

Don Carlos, Double-sighted 
Dog, Billing 

Double-sighted Dog, Don 

Downs, T. Nelson 

Droz, Henri-Louis Jacquet-, 
Portrait of 

Droz, Jacquet-, Clipping. . . . 

Droz, Jacquet-, View of Mech- 
anism of Writing Automa- 

Droz, Jacquet-, Writing Au- 
213 tomaton 96 

74 Droz, Pierre Jacquet- 93 

75 Droz, Pierre Jacquet-, Por- 

25 trait and Autograph 92 

174 Droz Writing Automatons, 

104 Specimens of Penmanship 

respectively in 1796 and 

no 1 906 84 

Dunkell 197 

173 Dutchwoman's Decoration 

239 used to Advertise 214 


Eagle, Barney 149 

160 Eagle's, Barney, Tricks Ex- 
posed on an Anderson Pos- 

52 ter 154, 15s 

166 Eagle's Book, Frontispiece. . 153 
Eagle's Poster featuring the 

91 Obedient Clock Trick 156 

Eckeberg, John Carlton 181 

54 Eckartshausen, Hofrath 

von 143, 160, 163, 169 

254 Egyptian Wine 252 

Escalopier, M. de 1' 280 

192 Ethereal Suspension 222, 312 

Evanion, Henry Evans, 20, 

190 21,23,25,26,49,124,259 

191 Evanion, Henry Evans, Por- 

243 trait of 22 

221 Evanion, Letter from Gyn- 

gell 124 

221 Evans, Henry Ridgely, The 

Old and the New Magic ... 16 
219 Exploration de la Retinue. . 49 
265 Exposes the Magic Clock 

Trick, Diagram 160 

94 Exposing Barney Eagle's 
loi Tricks on an Anderson 

Poster 154, 155 

98 Faber, T. 


Faber, Prof 88 

Falaise, James de 275 

Falck of Koenigsberg, 

182, 183, 184 
Falck of Koenigsberg Poster 183 

Fantastic Portfolio 222 

Father of English Prose 226 

Fawkes 14, 51, 52, 56, 58 

Fawkes Advertisement 55> 60 

Fawkes, Isaac, Portrait of, 59,68 
Fawkes Newspaper Clipping, 

61, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67 
Feliciani, Seraphinia, Com- 
tesse de Cagliostro, rare 

Portrait 251 

Fifty Years in the Magic Cir- 
cle 267 

Flora's Gift 183, 190 

Flowers, Creation of ....... . 190 

Flowers, Origin of 222 

Frikell, Herr und Frau, Por- 
trait of 30 

Frikell, Villa 2S 

Frikell, Wiljalba, 9, 26, 27, 

29,31,32,235, 296, 299 
Frikell, Wiljalba, in his 

Youth 297 

Frontispiece from Breslaw's 

Book on Magic 144 

Frontispiece from Eagle's 

Book 259 

Frontispiece from Hocus Fo- 
cus, second edition of 1635, 

Frontispiece from Ingleby's 
Book, Whole Art of Leger- 
demain 259 

Frontispiece from Richard 

Neve's Book on Magic .... 17 
Frontispiece from Simon 

Witgeest 13 

Frost, Thomas 16, 228 



Gantziony, Natural and Un- 
natural Magic, dated 1489 12; 

Garde Fran<^aise 222 

Gamerin 1 16, 1 19> 

Gamerin Poster 120 

Garrick Theatre 286 

Gazette, Evening 241 

Gentlemen's Magazine 56 

Globe, The 177 

Goose, Learned 219 

Goose, Learned, Poster 220. 

Grande Initiation au vraie 
Pratique des C^l^bres Phy- 

siciens-Prestidigitateurs. . . 278; 

Grave of Bartolomeo Bosco. . 306 

Grave of Robert Heller 208. 

Grave of Robert-Houdin .... 46* 

Grisy, Count Edmond de . . . . ^8'. 

Guillon, Marie Catherine. . . . ^$, 

Gun Delusion, The 128, 155 

Gutle, Johann Conrad 163. 

Guyot's Physical and Matli- 

ematical Recreations 143. 


25, 116, 121, 124, 166, 172- 

Gyngell 's Colored Lithograph 126- 

Gyngell 's Letter to Evanion 124 

Gyngell's Portrait 122 

Gyngell's Poster 121 

Gyngell's Programme 125 

Haddock 105, 116, 117 

Haddock Advertisement ... . 106 

Halle, Johann Samuel 14 

Halle's, Johann Samuel, Ma- 
gic or The Magical Power 

of Nature 14 

Hamilton 45, 289. 

Handbill Advertising the 
Fake Automatic Artist. ... 1 1 1 

Handbill of Buck 261 

Handbill of Ingleby 258". 


^^^^ INDKX ^^ 



^M HurHlbill ot Jerterini , . 


H i^t ory of I n c en : ion s . 


H Mandbilt of Ortginal Indian 

Hisjtory of ln\enliOii^ nnd 

H J ugglers 


Disco\ erie-s, by John B^ck- 

H Handbitl of RamoSamee. 




H Handbill of Te^toi . 


Hobbs* Hart ^ Co,, London 


^^^^ HandbilU Reproduced Front 

Hocu.^-Pc»cus 14 J, 


^^^P and Back, us^d to Arlv«?r- 

Hocus-Pocus, Frtimi i s p i i* c e. 

^^^ lise Mai^ter M* Kean 


second edition* 1635 - . to, t« | 

^M Handbill used by A:nder^on 

H r >t1f ma n n * Prof elisor , 

^m in Germany. 


365* 278. ?79, 581, 


^M Handkerchief* Disapj.>earing, 

Hofj^in-'ier* Jnhann Xep.* rare 

■ 245^234 

iLFigraving uf . , . . . . . , . 


H Hardee's ''Tactics*' 


H 00 Iters * Recreations**. . 

£t J 

^m Headi^ of King George and 

H Olid in* Cecile Eglantine 


^^^_ Queen Charlotte* e:tecuted 

Huudin* Emile. - 


^^^H In their Pn^sence bv Drox 

Houdvn* Emile, Benefit Post- 

^^^^ Drawing Figure in 1774 . 


er at St James Theatre in 

■ HebKWilliiim 




H Heimburger» Alexander, 11- 

Houdin, Fav(*rile Lilbi>grapli 


^1 ktsl ration. , , . . . . ,..,-. 


for Advertising Purpo^yes 


H Heimljurger, Alt^xander* Pho- 

tt>ed V>y Robert' Houd in . . 


H tt»gTaph of 


Hi aid in, Jean* Eugene Ro* 

H Ht*imburger, Alexander, Pm- 

be rt-* Port rait taken in rv^thM 


H gramme, the Suspension 

Houdin Poster announcing 

■ Trick 


the Appearance of Roliert- 

■ Heim burger* Herr 433, 


Houdin befone Queen Vic- 

H Heller, Roberr . ,205, 


loria and her Court 


H Heller* Robert and Haidee, 

Houdin Poster used dunug 

H Portraits of 


an Eastern Engiigement at 


■ Heller, Robert* Grave 

3 08 

the St, James Theatre, 


H Heller, Robert* Programme. 


London , . , 

40 _i 

H Heller, Robert, Poster 


Houdin Programme for the 


H Henry, M t if>. 

f ? ; 

\ ipening of Rt*bert- Houdin 


■ Herald, New York 

Theatre in Paris, July j. 


H Herrmann, Ale:^andef 

- T" 

1S45,. ...... ....... 

37 1 

H Herrmann, Compar?^* 

Houdin* Robert-, 7, t6, 18^ sj. 


■ ^5^ 195- 233. ^J5v 3 06, 297, 


25t 3.^ ^S* 5^^ 4J- 45i 4^ 


H Herrmann, Compare* Be^l 

4Q, $Q. 52* 195. toj. 135 


H Port rait in Existence 


Houdin, Riibert-, and Son 


^^^ Herrmann , Compare, BiUing . 


Euiile. Illustration (^re- 


^^H Herrmann* Compare, Pro- 

lenting Second Sight ... 

dot ■ 

^^^H grammes mj;, 


Houdin, RoWrt-. u^ ht- up* 




^^^^ INDEX ^^^^^ ^^H 




peared l«> the English Crit* 

Indian Jugglers Handbill . . - . 

'^3 H 

ics. Reprcduted from the 

Inexhaustible Bottle, The, 


Illustrated London Xewsi 

176, iSi, JS4, jS6, 188, 1^5, 


December 25, 1848. . . 


Infernal Bottle Pointer u^d 


Houdin, RDberl-, Ba^i-reltef 

by PhilUpjjein 1838 . . 

1S4 ^M 

on Tombs I nut; , 


logleby Handbill.. 

^5^ H 

Houdin. Robert -» Grave of - * 


Ingleby the Senior. , . . . .256 

^ss ■ 

tfoudin, Robert-, last Photo- 

Ingleby s Book, Frontispiece^ 


^aph taken and used as 

Whole Art of Legerdemain 

^59 ^1 

the FrontUpiece for Mem- 

Introduction .,..,.....,.,. 


oirs , . 


Inv^entions, History of, ..... 


H c»ud i n, Ro beri - , onl y Paster 


showing his Complete Stage 

Jacobs, M, i4tj, 296, 


Settm? - . 


Jacobs, M-j Portrait of . - , - ^ 
JacobSj M., Poster 

iz$ ^H 

Houdin, Kobert-p Portrait.. - 


Hpudin, Robert-, Poster on 

Jei^erini Handbill 

^56 ■ 

which Hi^ Complete Re^ier- 

Jefferini, Mr 

'5^ H 

toire Appears. 


Jeux de Soci^te 


Houdin, Robert-, Poster used 

Jugglers. Indian, Handbill . 

383 H 

In London in IVH4S , 

4 a 

Jrjurnal des Science.s 

161A ^H 

.Houdin. Robert - , Pos ler u sed 

Journal. The Court 


to Advertise His Traj^eze 




Kr*tterfelto aj, 161, 

166 ^H 

Houdin, Robert', Poster whetT 

Katterfeho CUppmg of 1 783 . 


he Played at Sadler'sWdls, 

Ka It erf el to Portrait 


London. In i^^i 


Kemi>elen, M de . . . . 

266 ^M 

Houdin. Robert-. Rare Litho- 

King George and Queen Char- 




lotte HeadH, executed \*y 


Houdi nir Ha rr\, PorLra it , 

the Droz Drawing Figure 



i»i 1774 


How to Become a Wizani 


Koin King, The, T Nelson 


Hit L ton. Charles .. 

Downs . , 


Krans, K, K . . . . , 


lUusionniste. The 



^-Illustration of Hindoo Basket 

Lady'^ Xewspai>ev 


^^V Trick ,276, 277, 

2 7'/ 

L'Almanach Caghostro. ..... 


^^^111 us Ira t ion nf the Brahmin 

La Magie Blanche Devoilee. 


H Suspension 


or White Magic Exjjot^d, 


■ Inaudi 




m Indian Ba^et Trick, 

Learned Goose 




Learned Goo^te Poster 


^^^^Rndian Tu^o'ler.^ 



Le Confiseur Galant 


^^^^^^^^^^■Mk^a^Kfl&atft p 1 b»^^K^ 1-^ V k. 



Lee, Sidney 

Le Manuel des Sorciers 

Le Prieur^ 

L'Escalopier, Count de. . . .43, 

Les Radiations Lumineuses. . 

Les Secrets de la Prestidigita- 
tion et de la Magie 

Les Tricheries des Grecs 

Letter to Evanion from Gyn- 

Letters on Natural Magic. . 

Le Voltigeur Trapeze 

Lewis, Angelo J 

Lithograph of Rannin doing 
the Sword-walking Act .... 

Lithograph showing All of 
Phillippe's Tricks 

Liverpool Theatre 

Lives of the Conjurers. . . .16, 

London Daily Post Clipping 
of Christopher Pinchbeck, 
from Nov. 30, 1728 

London Telegraph Clipping 
of March, 181 2 

Louis Programme 1 08, 

Macallister 134, 135, 

Macallister, Andrew, Por- 
trait of 

Macallister, Brick-mason .... 

Macallister Programme 

M'Kean, Louis Gordon 

M'Kean, Master, Handbill. . . 

MacKenzie, R. Shelton. . . .49, 

Maelzel 266, 

Mag, Miss Matilda 

Magazine, Gentlemen's 

Magic Bottle 

Magic, Natural and Unnat- 
ural, by Gantziony 

Magic, or the Magical Power 
of Nature, printed in Ber- 


54 lin in 1784 by Johann 

279 Samuel Halle 14. 

49 Magic, The Old and the New, 

280 byH. R.Evans 16 

49 Magie des XIX. Jahrhun- 

derts von Uriarte 287 

278 Magie et Physique amusante, 

49 49» ^79 

Mahomet 285 

124 Maillardet 105 

181 Mandeville, Sir John 11, 226 

166 Manfrede, Blaise 271,274 

26$ Manfrede, Blaise, Wood-cut. 27a 

Marchand, Floram 274 

269 Marchand, Floram, Publica- 
tion 275 

137 Marriott, the Celebrated, Pro- 
256 gramme featuring Cabal- 
228 istic Art 255 

Martin, Henri X04 

Martinka, Francis J 207 

54 Maskelyne no 

Masonic Order 252 

107 Materia Prima 252 

I 7 1 Mechanism, View of Jacquet- 

Droz Writing Machine .... 98 
195 Melies, M , 48 

Memoirs of Marquis de Mer- 

193 ville 287 

193 Memoirs, Robert-Houdin's, 
192 14-5^' 52, 176, 203, 217, 

213 222, 225, 245, 266» 268, 280, 

212 295, 296, 300, 302, 318 

265 Merode, Cleo de 31 

267 Merville, Memoirs of Marquis 

289 de 287 

56 Mezzotint of Christopher 
192 Pinchbeck, Jr 57 

Mezzotint of Christopher 
1 2 Pinchbeck, Sr . 53 

Mitchell, Dr. J. K 266. 

Mitchell, John .45,297 



Modem Magician 

Moiley's Memoirs of Bartho- 
lomew Fair 

Morse, S. F. B 

Mortimer, Dr. W. Golden. . . . 

Mortimer's Mysteries 

Moving Picture?; 

Mysterious Lady, Billing used 


-Mysterious Lady, Cut of 

Mjrstic Bell Trick, The 

Naconnier, Franqoise Mar- 
guerite 01ym|>e 

Narrowness of Robert-Hou- 
din*s Memoirs 

Natural Magic, by Johann 
Christian Wiegleb 

Natural Magic, by Simon 

Natural Magic Frontispiece . . 

Natural Magick in XX Bookes 
by John Baptist Porta .... 

Neve, Richard 

Neve, Richard, Frontispiece, 
Work on Magic 

Newspaper, The Lady's 

Niblo's Garden 

Noriet, M 

Nouveau Manuel Complet 
Sorciers, les scenes de Ven- 

Nouveile Magie Blanche De- 
voil6e et Cours Complet de 

Obedient Cards, The 141 

Old and New Magic 

Old London Fairs 

Old Showman, The 


•Orange Trick . 5 


239 Origin of Flowers 222 

Original Billing used by Mys- 

1 6 terious Lady 215 


207 Pastel Portrait of Cagliostro. 248 

207 Pastry Cook of the Palais 

67 Royal 116, 172, 193 

Pedestal Clock 166 

2 1 5 Pepper, Mr 299 

216 Pererilli, Count 235 

163 Phantasmagoria, A de Phil- 

ipsthal Programme. . . .102, 103 
Philips thal's Programme of 

33 j8o6 173 

Phillippe, 23, 45, 116, 129, 
2Q5 ^33^ ^35' i84» 185, 193, 195 

Phillippe Lithograph and his 
14 Scotch Assistant Domingo. 134 

Phillippe Pastel Portrait. ... 130 

12 Phillippe Poster 132, 184 

13 Phillippe Poster featuring 
the Infernal Bottle 184 

12 Philosophy, Course of Exper- 

14 imental 181 

Photo-engraving of Bartolo- 

1 7 meo Bosco 301 

177 Photograph of Alexander 
241 Heimburger 238 

35 Photograph of Bosco 's Grave 306 
Photograph of Mme. Bosco. . 305 
Pinchbeck, Christopher, 

279 51*52, 54. 56. 58 

Pinchbeck, Christopher, Jr., 

a very rare Mezzotint 57 

278 Pinchbeck, Christopher, Sr., 

The Oldest and Rarest 

-156 Mezzotint in the Wor'd 

16 Pertaining to the History 

16 of Magic 53 

16 Pinchbeck, Clipping from 
140 London Daily Post of Nov. 
1-55 30. 1729 54 



Pinetti, 23, 35, 38, 52, 69, 71, 
73, 76, 171, 209, 211, 213, 
221, 298, 300, 301, 302 

Pinetti, Chevalier 

Pinetti, Clipping featuring 
Second Sight 

Pinetti, Engraving of 

Pinetti, Signora 211, 

Pocket, Conjurer's 

Polk, President 


Ponsin, J. N 

Porta, John Baptist 

Porta, John Baptist, Por- 
trait of 

Portrait of Buck 

Portrait of Compars Herr- 

Portrait of Eugene Bosco .... 

Portrait of Henry E. Evanion 

Portrait of Henri Robin 

Portrait of Robert and 
Haidee Heller 

Portrait of Wiljalba Frikell 
in His Youth 

Poster of Robert-Houdin on 
which his Complete Reper- 
toire Appears 

Poster used by Anderson in 
London, 1848 

Poster used by Falck of Koe- 

Poster used by Heller 

President Polk 235, 

Print showing Cabinet Trick . 

Programme, Farewell, of DO- 

Programme of Anderson 1 848 

Programme of Ching Lau 

Programme of Compars Herr- 
mann 196, 197, 


Programme of de Philipsthal 

Benefit no 

Programme of DObler 188 

182 Programme of Macallister. . . 192 
Punch 177 

210 Punch Cartoon reproduced, 
72 proving J. H. Anderson's 

213 Inexhaustible Bottle Trick 186 

243 Ramo Samee Handbill. .282, 2S6 

1 72 Rannin Lithograph 21^9. 

278 Rannin Lithograph showing 

12 Walking on Swords 2<5g 

Rare Poster of Learned Goose 220 

1 1 Raynaly, Mons. E 69 

257 Recreations, Hooper's 211 

Recreations, Physical and 
194 Mathematical, by Guyot. . 143 

315 Recreations Physiques 2 79 

22 Redmond, Professor 289 

198 Reproduction of an Engrav- 
ing of Chin>5se Trick Climb- 

202 ing into the Air 227 

Reproduction of an Illustra- 
297 lion in " Auf schliisse zur 

Magie" 169^ 

Reproduction of Cartoon in 
224 Punch, 1843, proving An- 

derson's Inexhaustible Bot- 

313 tie Trick 186 

Reproduction of Handbill 

183 used to Advertise Master 

206 M'Kean 212 

243 Reproduction of Handbills 
290 used by Mysterious Lady. .216 

Robert, Jean -Eugene, 
189 33' 34. 3*5. 40 
309 Robert, Prosper ^^ 

Robertson, E. G 76 

231 Robin, Henri, 197, 199, 217, 

289, 296, 297, 298 
2 7,2 Robin, Henri, Portrait of . . . . 198 



Advertisement Showing the Orange Tree as Offered by the Senior 

Fawkes : 55 

Anderson and Son "Suspension Chloriforeene " 234 

Anderson Handbill Used in Gallery . 311 

Anderson. J. H., Wife and Son. Photograph of 146 

Anderson, John Henry, as He Appeared in His Later Years 317 

Anderson, Mrs. Leona A., as She Appeared in the Suspension 

Trick , 236 

Anderson Poster Featuring Card Trick Used in 1836-37. 142 

Anderson Poster Used in 1838 147 

Anderson Poster U.sed in London, 1848 313 

Anderson's Billing of 1838 Featuring "Napoleon's Trick" 150 

Anderson's Book Cover Design 148 

Anderson's Inexhaustible Bottle Trick 186 

Anderson's, J. H., Birthplace 145 

Anderson's Opening Programme, 1848 309 

Anderson's Poster, Exposing "Barney" Eagle's Tricks 154, 155 

Astley, Philip, Esq 19 

Bamberg, David Leendert 140 

"Barney," alias The Impostor Wizard. Window Poster Issued by 

Anderson 155 

Barnum, P. T 88 

Basch, Ernst 139 

Bertram, Charles (James Bassett) 20 

Blitz, Signor Antonio. 18 

Bologna Bill Used in 181 2 170 

Bologna Poster Used in 1820 118 

Bosco, Bartolomeo, in His Prime 301 

Bosco, Eugene 315 

Bosco, Grave of 306 

Bosco, Madame, the only Photograph of 305 

Bottle Trick, Inexhaustible. 186 

Brahmin, The Suspension 229 

Breslaw's Frontispiece On Book on Magic, "The Last Legacy," 144 



BresJiivv Ltlhngraph . , ......,,,, 

Biitk, English CimjurtT, ( ^nly FVirtrait Known 
Buck Handbill Dated 3844. 

Cuba Its tit: An 

CttbaltMic An Featured on Mamu( t iVrjgrammtr in \H\t ., 

Cabalistic Art Featiifed on Tei^Uit Prfjgramme in tK^fi 

Cabinet Trick Offered by Da sen port Brothers , 

Caglioslrt>» CfJTntesse de» Portritit of . 

Caglioj^tro, rAlmiinach de, Tha Brahmin's SiJ^|)ension 
CagltQ&Iro, Rare Pastel Port rait 
Charles Poster LT^ed in j8^y, .. * 

Chinese Magicians- .... 

Ching Lau Lauro Handbill , . 

cupping Advertising the Writing and Drawing Figures Exhibited 

by Jacquet Droz . 

Clipping of I Si 3 Proving the Partnership <>l de Philipsthal imd 


Clipping Used by Christopher Pinchbeck in ij^K 
Clock Trick, Kckarishausen's. ,,...,, 
Comilhtl. M* Repnsdiiction of Handbill 
D?ivrnpf»rt Brothers' Announcement . 
DiL\'enpr)rt Brothers ....,..,....,. 

Davenport Brothers* Cnhinet Trick 

Davenport Brothers^ in Their Prtrne, Porirail^ nf 

Decremp^, Henri 

Decremps' Signature. , . . . . 

Dtlbler, Farewel! Programme 

D^iblen Ludwig, Portrait 1.S7, 

Dtibler Programme . . _ , 

D^ihler Programme Dated iK.|j 

1 Kmiingo MucaUisttT ,,..,.,,.,- 

Dim CfiHos. "the Double- sjgbti^d Dt% ' liilling Lsed 

Dr<*H Avitt>maton .,.,.,,...>.,,►,., 

Drox Figure of Cujiid . , 

Droz, Henri-Louis Jacquet. . . 

[JroK, Jaci|uct, Drawing Figure.. . 

DrcjXt Pierre Jacquet, Portrait of .„....., . 

DroK Writing Automaton Specimen?; in tyg^' 
Dtitch woman. Decora titm Uscfl to Advertise 
Ragle, Barnard o, Frontispiece from Eag1e'«i Book 
Engle, Barney, Poster. ,,.........,...,.. 

Eckarljihausen's Automalie Rope Vaulter , 



Eckartshausen*s Clock Trick i6o 

Engraving, Reproduction of, from an Old German Encyclopedia. . 227 

Evanion, Henry Evans 22 

Exposure of Barney Eagle 154, 155 

Faber, Professor, Hanger Advertising Talking Machine. . . -. 90 

Falck Poster Used in 1835 183 

Fawkes Advertisement 60, 61 , 62 

Fawkes Clipping 6^4, 65, 66, 67 

Fawkes, Isaac, Portrait 59 

Frikell, Herr und Frau 30 

Frikell Villa 28 

Frikell, Wiljalba, in Hi.s Youth 297 

Gan^erin Poster Used in 1815 120 

Goose Poster 220 

Gyngell, Lithograph 126 

Gyngell, Portrait of 122 

Gyngell Poster Used in 1816 121 

Gyngell Programme of 1823 125 

Haddock Advertisement, 1 796 166 

Handbill Advertising the Fake Automatic Artist, 1826 iii 

Hardeen, Theo. Weiss 25 

Heimburger, Alexander, Illustration 24* 

Heimburger, Alexander, Portrait of 238 

Heimburger, Alexander, Poster 242 

Heller, Robert and Haidee, Portraits 202 

Heller, Robert, Grave of 208 

Heller, Robert, Programme of 1851, only one in existence 204 

Heller Poster Used in 1853 206 

Herrmann, Compars, Billings 196, 197 

Herrmann, Compars, Portrait 194 

Herrmann, Compars, Programme 232 

Hocus- Pocus, Frontispiece Second Edition, 1635 10 

Hofzinser, Johann Xep, Engraving 162 

Hogarth's Engraving Entitled "Taste" 70 

Hone's "Every Day Book," Reproduction of page 226 68 

Houdin and Son Emile 201 

Houdin Bas-Relief 47 

Houdin Grave 46 

Houdin, Robert 8, 24. 34, 41, 48 

Houdin, Robert, Favorite Lithograph for Advertising Purposes. . 38 

Houdin, Robert, First Appearance before Queen Victoria 39 

Houdin, Robert, Poster Used at Sadler's Wells, 1853 44 




Houdin, Robert, Poster Used at St. James Theatre, London .... 40 

Houdin, Robert, Poster Used for Emile Houdin Benefit, 1848. . . 43 

Houdin, Robert, Poster Used in London, 1848 42 

Houdin, Robert, Poster Used in 1852 223, 324 

Houdin, Robert, Poster Used to Advertise His Trapeze Perform- 
ance 167 

Houdin, Robert, Programme for the Opening of Robert Houdin's 

Theatre in Paris 37 

Houdin, Robert, The only Poster Showing his Complete Stage- 
setting . 36 

Houdini, Harry Frontispiece 

Indian Basket Trick 276, 277, 279 

Indian Juggler's Handbill. 283 

Ingleby's Book Frontispiece 259 

Ingleby Handbill Dated 1808 258 

Jacobs, M., Lithograph 158 

Jacobs Poster Featuring the Travelling Card 151 

Jefferini Handbill Dated 1833 256 

Katterfelto 165 

Katterfelto Clipping of 1 782 161 

Lauro, Ching Lau, Handbill ,231 

Le Confiseur Galant 139 

Leschot, Jean Frederic, Portrait 95 

Louis Programme of 181 5 108 

Macallister, Andrew, Portrait 193 

Macallister, Domingo 134 

Macallister Programme 192 

M*Kean, Master, Front and Back of Original Handbill distributed 

in London Streets in 183 1 212 

Manfrede, Blasius de Manfre or Blaise, Rare Woodcut 272 

Marchand, Floram 275 

Marriot Programme Featuring Cabalistic Art in 183 1 255 

Mysterious Lady Billing 215 

Mysterious Lady Cut 216 

Neve, Richard, Frontispiece, 1715.. 17 

Philipsthal, de, Poster Used in 181 1 104 

Philipsthal Programme of 1806 1 73 

Philipsthal Programme x>i 1803 102, 103 

Phillippe and Assistant Domingo 134 

Phillippe Lithograph, 1842 137 

Phillippe Poster 184 

Phillippe Poster Used in 1845-46 132 


TO. 22t) 

Ige, George, & Co . , . 2 7S 

Jule^ide. ... , _ 116, J j8 
lareiici? Tlicatre. ... 356 

Inn .-.,.,,.,..., 166 

iV . 217 

erji iSi^ 

Raino, Handbill. 2S2, 2S6 

James- IS 

James, ro?;ier 26 

3eTg. - 367 

t, . . , 1 til 1 16* 1 7^* iSit iSj 
Po^^ter. . . . .... 114 

1 1 Program me of 1821* 1S2 
ti Programme Uf?ed in 

! - - 3 1,1 

jlc Amusements 35 

Sight. ............. 50Q 

pight , by M itnd Mme. 

a 2 1 K 

Sight* lilustratiuii , 30 1 
Sight of the Young 
landers _....,...,. 214 
de la Preslidtgiialion 49 
of Conjuring iind 

: . , . . , .i265, 378 

of Magic. ...... .4Q> ^^^ 

» Stage Conjuring, 
i 27fh28l,2gtJ 

btifectioner^s . tf>6 

tre of Decremps. .. 75 

Elder & Co M 

of -Vmerican Mugi- 

^ ■ ^ ,...,..-,.. 5©7 

ens t>f Penman.'^hip 
lied by Dnoz's Writing 
maton in 1706 and 

actively... -,,. . 84 


Spirit Bell . . ..... 34 

Susi|>ension, Brahmin Illustra- 
tion , 229 

Suspension Chloriforeene, ... 253 
Siispension Ch Jo riforeene 

Lithograph ..-**.» 354 

Suispension. E thereal. . . , . sia^ 3 ta 
Su.spen^ion featured by Corn- 
pars Herrmann, a Pro* 

gramme of 1 848 132 

Suspension Trick .... 332 

Svi.^fien;5ion Trick, A.s Mrs. 
Leona A. Anderson ap- 
peared. _.....,..-.._... 2j6 

Susf tension Tricky Programme 
Pre.senting, by Alexander 
Heimburger, ........... 24a 

Su.spension Trick Uised by 
Koberi-Hondin , 224. 

Talking Machine ^ Hanger 

Advertisement SS 

Taste. Engraving by Hogarth 70 

Testol Handbill 2$$ 

Testot. M. F^ix ,,. ^55 

Tesitot Programme featuring 

Cabalistic Art 354 

Theatre. Adelphia . ^5^ 

Theatre, Garrick - 2 86 

Theatre, LiveriiooT ,.,...,. 356 

Theatre, Roberl-Houdin 47 

Theatre, Royal Clarence. .... 356 
The Secrets of Conjuring and 

Magic ,..,....,.. 265—2 78 

The Secrets of Stage Conjur- 
ing., .>79, 3Stf igq 

The Temple of the Muses. . , , 56 
The Trapeze Autc»maton . , . . 1 66 

The Trapeze Performer 1 68 

The Trapeze Tumbler ,..,,. 322 
Thiodon Bill of 1 8^ 5 . . , . , 1 73, 1 74 
Thnee Talen ted H ighlanders . 314 


V fffi 


. Tom and Jerry 

Tom Thumb. Gen 

Torrini, 35, 38, 52, 140, 209, 

Toulet, Mile. Louise 

Tours de Cartes et de Gibe- 

Travelling Bottle 185, 

Travelling Card, Poster of 

Tribune, New York 240, 

Trick, Apple-Tree < 

Trick, Basket, Illustrations, 
276, 277, 

Trick. Bell 

Trick Cabinet of the Daven- 
port Brothers 

Trick, Chinese, of Climbing 

. into Air 

, Chinese, Reproduction 
of .'.! 

T ick Clock, Diagram of 

Trick. Disappearing Hand- 
kerchief. . . . '. 245- 

Trick, Indian Basket, 

276, 277, 

TricW. Magic Clock, Diagram 

Trick, Mystic 

Trick, Obedient Card, fea- 
tured on a Barney Eagle 

Trick, Orange-Tree 51 

Trick, Orange-Tree, Diagram 

Trick, Rope-tying 

Trick, Second Sight. .49, 200, 

Trick, Secret of Trained Bird 
and Bell 

Trick, Shoulder of Mutton 
and Card ' 


^ S3 ED 



289 Trick, Suspension. . . .49, 222, 312 
230 Trick, Suspension, Ethereal, 
241 222—312 

Trick, Suspension", Chlorifo- 

301 reene , . . . 233 

289 Trick, Suspension, of Sheshal 230 

Trick. The Inexhaustible Bot- 

279 tie 49,3^2 

188 Trick, The Pastry Cook of the 

Palais Royal 49 

151 Trick, The Vaulting Trap>eze 

241 Automaton 49, 141 

51 Trick, Watch in Loaf of 

Bread r> 

279 Trick, Writing and Drawin'" 

242 Figure 49 

Two Elegant Automata 172 


Unmasking of Robert-Hou- 
227 din 33 

Ure, Andrew, M.D 


160 Van Esten, Mr 168 

. Vaucanson 41.95 

254 Verlag, Heusere 287 

Voisin 163 


Walking Cards, The 156 

160 Water-spouter 272, 273, 275 

163 Water-spouter and Juggler . . 27^ 

Webster, Daniel 243 

Weiss, Rev. M. S., 
156 dtdtcation page 

-55 Weiss, Ehrich (Hjurf Hoa- 

dini) Ffm^ffkce 

5 2 Weiss, Theodora VLMsAma .t 25 

293 White Mafic .*. 35 

312 White Magic Expoted 39fiyi 

White, John 12 

243 White, John, Portrait of 15 

Wiegleb, Johann Christian. . ' 14 

257 Willmann. Carl . '. . 305 

L t.^jx 1 _ 






(650) 723-9201 

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